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Cú\ %\i^ 




NT // 

(I.— XXXI,) 




(I.— XXXI.) 






" Nobiliora forsan alii, ego quod possum.** — JoH. Frsd. Gronovius, in dedicatione 
Pituiti ad Coleerhtm, 

" Quum intellexeris quod antea nesciebas, vel interpretem me sestiooato si gratus es 
▼el parapbiasten si ingratus.'*— S. Hieronymus, in Prologo CaUato, 






>78, STRAND. 

•a\ •« 



^. ^ 



To many, perhaps to most, of those enlightened people for 
whose hands more immediately this volume is destined and to 
whom it owes its existence, both style and subject-matter will 
be altogether strange ; here and there too it may be held that a 
promulgator of such wares is bound to justify his action. Now, 
under favour, to attempt this would be to invert the right order. 
Not only is 'justification ' (whether in or out of theology) a strong 
word, and as such repugnant to the modesty of the Gael ; but the 
thing itself falls into divers kinds, of all which one only variety 
can be valid here: that which is not antecedent but subsequent, 
not verbal but practical, and which emanates neither from pub- 
lisher nor from published, but from the public. This phenomenon 
of ours may, however, very well be simply accounted for. 

SiLVA Gadelica, then, is in the nature of a straw tossed up to 
see how the wind blows ; in other words, to test the judgment of 
some who from time to time and from widely differing motives 
have strenuously urged that at this present some such effort had 
a chance of being well received. The effort, as you see, has been 
made ; the reception has to come : with the receiving community 
it lies now to show whether or not the aforesaid weatherwise 
(enormously eminent men one or two of them) prophesied more 
than they knew, and thereby to pronounce those concerned in 
making the experiment either guilty or not guilty of over-confi* 
dence in their skill as caterers. 

The work is far from being exclusively or even po-imarily 
designed for the omniscient impeccable leviathans of science that 
headlong sound the linguistic ocean to its most horrid depths» 
and (in the intervals of ramming each other) ply their flukes on 
such audacious small fry as even on the mere surface will venture 
within their danger.^ Rather is it adapted to the use of those 

^ Thackeray warns Bob Brown the younger that, since the days of y^sop, a 
desire to cope with bulls is known to be fatal to frogs. As yet no Gadelic 


vi Preface. 

weaker brethren who, not blindly persisting in their hitherto bliss- 
ful ignorance, may be disposed to learn if but a little of an out-of- 
the-way and curious branch of literature: A few further and 
necessary remarks, technical or otherwise, are postponed ; let us 
at once proceed to review our Irish pieces, which first of all, and 
in a very general way, may be ranged under the following heads : — 

A. Hagiology: I — IV; hagiological matter in XXVIII, 

XXIX, also. 

B. Legend :i V— X, XIII— XVI, XXII— XXV. XXVII— 


C. Ossianic lore: XI, XII, XXI, XXVI; Finnic matter in 

XXVIII also. 

D. Fiction:* XVII— XX. 

^ Here the term embraces tales having whether an actual basis of history or 
a mere historical element, however slight, as well as those which seem to 
embody myths and traditions. The accurate sifting of them is left to special- 
ists to perform, each according to his own peculiar views. 

* Includes tales of later date : deliberate inventions pure and simple, and for 
the most part (as are our present specimens) of a jocose character. 

Next, the articles shall be taken in numerical order and a brief 
description of the sources given : — 

I. This Life of the elder S. Kieran, of Seirkieran in the King's 
county, is taken from Egerton 112: a voluminous and neat MS. 
in the British Museum (1042 pp. of foolscap), written in 1780-82 
by Maurice O'Conor, working shipwright in the port of Cork, 
who probably transcribed from a copy (now in the Royal Irish 
Academy) made by his tutor: John Murphy, of Raheenagh near 
Blarney. The text is a specimen of good modern (say 17th 
cent.) Irish, formally and as to vocabulary correct ; it is however 
too close a translation from the Latin* to be * streng irisch * in 
style. IV M do not mention this Kieran ; his chronology is 
altogether obscure. 

^ i.e. from the life in the codex Kilkenniensis, printed by the Irish Franciscan 
John Colgan, priest, in his Acta Sanctorum Hibemi^e: Louvain, 1645. 

II. Life of S. Molasius, Abbot of Devenish in loch Erne (after- 

batrachian has sought thus to burst himself; per contra it were no less instruc- 
tive than easy to point out how and where lordly cetaceans of philology, 
enviously invading shallows in which the humble Celtic whitebait sports at 
ease, lie stranded (as Milton has it) ' many a rood in length.' 



Preface. vii 

wards burial-place of the Maguires of Fermanagh) + 563, to be 
distinguished from his contemporary namesake of Leighh'n ; 
from Additional 18,205: a well written i6th century small-quarto 
MS. on vellum in the British Museum, the remainder of which 
consists in a number of metrical pieces on the dues, privileges 
and rights, of Molasius' successors. These, like all memoria 
technica productions, which is what they really are, have no 
literary merit. The text, as though somewhat inattentively 
taken down from dictation,^ is in places defective or obscure and, 
formally, altogether modernised ; so also is the spelling, which is 
frequently incorrect to boot. The first page of the MS. is much 
defaced ; O'Curry renounced to make it out ; but any errors in 
the pedigree as printed are of little consequence since, so far as 
Molasius is concerned, it is fictitious; see extracts ad loc. 

^ A common practice, responsible for much textual imperfection. 

III. Life of S. Magnenn* of Kilmainham, near Dublin, from 
Egerton 91: a small-folio vellum MS. of the 15th cent in the 
British Museum, written by the industrious scribe Uilliam Mac 
an Legha^ * William Mac Alea ' * Lee.' General character of text 
much as in II, but orthography better. IV M do not mention 
this Saint, nor does MD give his obit. 

^ The name is fern, in form ; its gen. MaignintU occurs once in this tract 
(Jr. p. 38, 1. 31), otherwise it is undeclined. 

* His patronymic signifies 6 rw iarpov, and the Mac Aleas were hereditary 
physicians. William's transcripts are mostly hagiological and medical ; a 
MS. of his in the King's Inns, Dublin, is dated 1463, another in the R. LA. 
1467. He had the habit of using in his colophons a peculiar Latin construc- 
tion of his own, e.g. " Uilliam qui scripsit ut bona morte peribit," representing 
literally Uilliam ro scrib degbhás go négaidh sé^ * it was William that wrote 
this, may he die a good death' ; sometimes he says ' libera morte/ meaning 
saorbhds * free-death,' i.e. death in a state of grace, free or exempt from con- 
demnation ; door no saor is * guilty or not guilty,' door ó epscop saor a bhan- 
riogain is Miable to bishop, exempt from Queen/ i.e. for dues and taxes: 
see Additional Charter 34,938, in British Museum. 

IV. Life of S. Cellach, bishop of Killala, from the Leabhar 
breac * Speckled Book of the Mac Egans,' otherwise leabhar mar 
dúna Daighre * the Great Book of Duniry ' : a large-folio vellum 
MS. in the Royal Irish Academy, written at some date not very 
much anterior to 141 1. A paper transcript of this life, made in 
1629 by br. Michael O'Clery, O.S.F., is in the Burgundian library, 

viíi Preface* 

Brussels. Neither in IV M nor in MD is this prelate mentioned; 
but from the literary point of view our tract is perhaps the best 
in Irish hagiography.^ Unfortunately an important episode was 
wanting in the Leabhar breac copyist's archetype. 

^ The shortest of the kind will be this : " Three penitents resolved to quit 
the world for the ascetic life, and so sought the wilderness. After exactly a 
year's silence the first one said : * 'tis a good life we lead.* At the next year's 
end the second answered : * it is so.' Another year being run out, the third 
exclaimed : * if I cannot have peace and quiet here I'll go back to the world.' " 
The original Irish is in a paper MS. in the British Museum, but for the 
moment I have mislaid the reference. 

V. A story of king Dermot's servitor Aedh bacldvih} from * Mac 
Carthy-Riach's Book': a 15th cent, folio MS. on vellum, written 
(partly at all events) for the delectation of Mac Carthy-Riach 
(Finghin mac Dermot an dúna mac Donall Riach) who died in 
1505. In June, 1629, this fine codex was in the Franciscan 
abbey* called tigh or teach Malaga * Timoleague/ i.e. * S. Molaga's 
House,' where br. Michael O'Clery transcribed from it. That is 
the last we hear of it until 18 14, when, during some interior altera- 
tions made in Lismore Castle, county Waterford, the opening of 
a long built-up passage or recess disclosed a wooden box contain- 
ing this MS. in loose staves, together with a portion of a fine 
antique crozier. The former, much damaged by rats, has ever 
since been known as * the Book of Lismore ' and is, of course, the 
property of the Dukes of Devonshire. 

^ In his translation of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, Conall Mageoghegan of 
I-ismoyny in 1627 renders this word by *the king's serjeant.' Its meanings 
cannot be discussed here ; but that in this case it denotes an office, and is not 
a mere sobriquet, appears from Ir. p. 75, lin. antepen., where it occurs in the 
pi., bacláimh. In the sense of * cripple-handed' IV M use adj. baclámach, 

* Founded in 1240 by the then Mac Carthy-Riach, who was buried in the 
choir ; it became the burial-place of O'Mabony of Carbery too, of the Barrys- 
More, and of the barons de Courcey, 

VI. Death^ of king Dermot above, son of Fergus cerrbhél 
(otherwise Dermot mac Cerbhall, si. 592), as related in the lost 
'Book of SHgo/ from Egerton 1782; a thick small-quarto vellum 
MS. in the British Museum, written at various periods from 1419 
to 1 5 17; a memorandum gives the obit of the reigning Mac 
Murrough-Kavanagh, Art Buie mac Donall Riach, on S. Cathe- 
rine's-day in the Utter year. The scribes were O'Mulconrys, and 

Preface. ix 

their penmanship is a credit to them ; part of the MS. was 
executed at Enniscorthy, county Wexford, some of it in Conn- 
acht This tale is akin to V. 

* The word used here {aidedh^ oidedh) means a death tragical in its nature ; 
in mo3t cases, therefore, violent. The aidedha (such deaths) formed one of 
the categories into which the professional reciters' repertory was divided. 

VII. Birth of Aedh sldtne, son of king Dermot above, from 
Leabhar na huidhre * the Book of the Dun [cow] ' : a folio vellum 
MS. in the Royal Irish Academy, and the earliest non-ecclesi- 
astical codex in Ireland. Of the scribe we know only this: 
that he was Maelmuire mac Conn na mbocht O'Ceilechar, and 
that in 1106 a gang of plunderers murdered him in the fair 
midst of the great church of Clonmacnoise. Divers memoranda 
recording the fortunes of the book during later centuries : how it 
was taken and retaken by force of arms, attest the estimation in 
which it was held by the O'Donnells of Tirconall and the 

VIII. The Wooing of Becfola, from Egerton 1781: a thick 
small-quarto vellum MS. in the British Museum, written mostly 
by Diartnaid bacach mac Finghin Mheic Pharrtholdin Mame 
Dermot mac Fineen Mac Parlane,'^ in M*Gauran*s country, 1487. 

^ The Scots, aspirating the P, make it * Mac Farlane' ; besides their attempt 
at transliteration, the Irish have (as with many other names) sought to ' trans- 
late' it as well, and then it becomes ' Bateman.' The process, which is not 
self-evident, is this : a man named Parrtholdn in Irish is always * Bar- 
tholomew' in English, and this again is familiarly shortened to 'Bat;' the 
occasion was too good to be lost. This is at least as old as Duald Mac 
Firbis's time (he was murdered in 1670 by one of the English settlers, at 
Danilin county Sligo), who in his Great Book of Pedigrees gives * Bateman' 
as the equivalent. 

IX. Disappearance of Caenchomrac, abbot of Inchenagh in loch 
Ree : from the Book of Lismore. The expression *son of purity' 
means that he had embraced, and faithfully observed, a life of 

X. Panegyric of king Cormac son of Art son of Conn of the 
Hundred Battles, i* 266, and of Finn son of Cumall : from Egerton 

XL Enumeration of Finn's Household, with the conditions of 
admission into the Fianna: from Egerton 1782. 

X Preface. 

XII. Agallamh na senórach 'the Colloquy of the Ancients':* 
from the Book of Lismore.^ In a short exordium this tract 
represents Finn mac Cumall's son Ossian, and Caeilte son of 
Crunnchu mac Ronan, with a small remnant of the fianna 
Eirentiy as having by more than a hundred and fifty years sur- 
vived the fatal battle of Gowra (in Meath), where that chosen 
body was exterminated. The aged warriors had reached a 
point well to the north of the present Drogheda when they 
separated: Ossian going yet farther north to seek out his 
mother, a woman of the tuatha dé Danann and therefore peren- 
nial ; Caeilte moving south until somewhere not far from Tara 
he foregathers with S. Patrick, then in the earlier stage of his 
mission. The heathen veteran being treated with kindness and 
consideration, he readily adopts the new doctrine and, as a 
docile neophyte, accompanies the Saint on an apostolic circuit 
of Ireland. They proceed south and west about ; on the way 
Caeilte is closely questioned anent all lore connected with glens, 
hills, lochs and raths, S. Patrick evincing in the subject an interest 
as keen as do the provincial kings and those chiefs through 
whose countries the holy men with their renowned disciple pass. 
Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster having been traversed 
thus, they reach Tara and there find Ossian installed at the court 
of king Dermot mac Cerbhaill' (V, VI). The Feast of Tara is 
being held, and for the public benefit both heroes recite of their 
own and fellows* deeds so much as their great age suffers them 
to have retained in memory. Their narrative is taken down by 
reporters of that period, and copies multiplied so that when the 
men of Erin break up for home one is carried into each quarter 
of Ireland. 

* This is convenient, but too literal ; English use requires : * Colloquy with 
the Ancients,' meaning in modern phrase : *• the interviewing and questioning 
of the Ancients by S. Patrick and others,' for agallamh here is a verbal 
noun with object in gen. Besides the loss of certain folios (indicated in text 
and version) and damage of rodents, the piece is imperfect at end ; the scribe 
left it so, and apparently had no prospect of completing it, for the last line 
is immediately followed by other and incongruous matter (much defaced). 

* To return for a moment to this MS. : it is the work of three scribes, one 
of whom is unknown ; the two others were a friar sumamed O Buadhacháin 
* Buchan,' * Buhan,' who copied from the lost Book of Monasterboice (county 
Louth) ; and Angus O'Callanan, who in a very fine finished hand penned two 
tracts : an Agallamh bheg ^ the Lesser Colloquy,' and suidigud tellaig Them^ 

Preface. xi 

nuh ^ the Settling of the Demesne of Tara,' a colophon to the latter containing 
the writer's name and an envoi to Mac Carthy-Riach. Folio 1 16 exhibits a 
curious poem of 44 quatrains by Mahon mac Donall mac Eoghan O'Daly, 
hereditary rhymer to the Mac Carthys-Riach, in which he justifies the strong 
measures taken in 1478 by Fineen and his brother Dermot to depose their 
first cousin Cormac mac Donough mac Donall Riach, who had usurped the 
chiefry from their father Dermot an dúna. This affair is glosed over by 
IV M, but see Annals of loch Ci ad an. Quatt 42, 43, convey a compliment 
to Mac Carthy's wife : lady Kathleen Fitzgerald, daughter of Thomas eighth 
earl of Desmond, lord justice of Ireland. In 1467 he was superseded by 
John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, who next year treacherously beheaded him 
at Drogheda, whence the Irish say 'Thomas of Drogheda'; in 1470 the earl 
of Warwick and the duke of Clarence had Tiptoft executed in England (IV M 
ad ann.). The verses, of which some twenty syllables in all are defaced hope- 
lessly, are followed (f. 116 b) by a law opinion on the case, in prose ; the metre 
is sédna. 

* This is an example of the latitude which the origittal narrator, whoever 
be was, allowed himself in matters of chronology. 

XIII. Death of Eochaid, son of Mairid king of Cashel (i.e. of 
Munster), by the bursting forth of lock nEchach * Eochaid's loch,' 
anglice ' loch Neagh,' the occasion of which is related, as well as 
the stoiy of Liban the mermaid : from the Book of the Dun. 

XIV. Death of Fei^s mac Leide, king of Ulidia, by the 
marine monster called *the Sinech of loch Rury*; an event 
brought about by malice of the king of the Luchra- or Lufra-- 
folk, otherwise Lupracáns * Pigmies,' to avenge certain affronts 
put on him by Fergus. These, and the occasion of the dwarf- 
monarch's visit to Fergus's court at Emania, are told at length. 
In this tale there is an element of facetiousness ; it is from 
Egerton 1782, and much defaced in places; the scene is laid 
before the historic period. 

XV. The Manner of king Cormac's Birth, a tale which may 
be considered prefatory to that of the battle of Mucramh (XXII)> 
from *the Book of Ballymote': a large-folio vellum MS. in the 
Royal Irish Academy, written circ. 1400 (some of it before, some 
later), and for more than a century afterwards owned by the 
Mac Donoughs of Ballymote (county Sligo), a sept of the Mac 
Donoughs of Tirerrill. Black Hugh O'Donnell (XVIII) either 
bought it of Mac Donough for a hundred and forty milch cows 
or rather, when harrying that chieftain, accepted the book in 
lieu of so many ; for the expression used in a memorandum on 
f. 333 o, and which needs no *(w)', altogether favours the latter 

xii Preface. 

supposition, as also do the relations between O'Donnell and the 
Mac Donoughs in 1516, 1522. After further vicissitudes it was 
acquired by the chevalier Thomas O'Gorman, who in 1785 pre- 
sented it to the Academy.^ 

^ The piece contains a wolf story; the medieval Irish are reported to have 
taken these animals for * gossips,* i.e. for godfathers and -mothers, and the 
Brehon laws show that they tamed and made pets of them as well as of cranes, 
hawks, foxes and deer (ALI IV, 115). 

XVI. Fiachna's sídh^ a lacustrine story of regions beneath the 
waters : from the Book of Lismore. 

XVII. Flight and Pursuit of the Gilla decair and his wonder- 
ful Horse, a favourite tale of a more or less burlesque nature : 
from a paper MS. written by Labhrás Mac Analla * Lawrence 
Mac Nally,' of the county Meath, in 1765 ; formerly in my own 
possession, now Additional 34,119 in the British Museum; a good 
MS. of its class. The piece is not found on vellum. 

XVIII. The Kern in the Narrow Stripes,^ otherwise *0'Don- 
nelPs Kern,* from Additional 18,747: a paper MS. in the British 
Museum, written in 1800 by Patrick Lynch, for Samuel Coulter 
of Carnbeg near Dundalk ; the tale* does not occur on vellum. 
There are divers versions of it, and as good a one as has come 
in my way I have transcribed from a MS. written in the county 
Cavan in 1847 by Silvester M'Gibney, a country schoolmaster, 
and now owned in London by Norman Moore, M.D., who kindly 
placed it at my disposal. Not only is the recension a good one, 

but for its time the text is quite remarkably correct. 


^ lit. *the narrow-striped Kern,' referring to his garb; the conventional 

* slender swarthy Kern' is wrong: we do not learn that he was either one or 
the other, whereas the new shirt offered him to replace (and presumably to 
match) his own was striped (tr. p. 313, inf); to this add that the correct 
reading is caoilriabhach (two adjj. cpd.) and not cool riabkach (two indepen- 
dent adjj.), and the matter is beyond doubt. The meaning oiriabh is *a stripe,' 
e.g. Lugaidh riabh nderg *L. of [the] red stripes' (ind. A); riabkach is 
'striped': applied to man or horse it means 'grizzled,' * iron-grey'; to a cow, 

* brindled.' In both the Highlands and Ireland the pronunciation (except 
metri gratia) is riach ; in the latter it is commonly introduced into English : 
every one knows what a * a riach heifer' is, also * a riach fog' \ceo riabhach\, 

* Two very abraded versions of this tale survive orally in the Highlands, 
whither it must at once have been carried by the Islesmen who in thousands 
tpok mercenary service with the great Irish chiefs during the i6th cent. : with 
O'Donnell and O'Neill especially. These curious waifs are printed by John 
F. Campbell in Tales of the W, Highlands, I. pp. 289—319. The Kern (i.e. 

Preface^ xiii 

Manannan mac Lir) if not himself historical, is the means of introducing us 
to characters not only historical but modem; — (i) Black Hugh (Hugh Oge) 
became 'O'Donnell' at his father's death in 1505; in 1522 he fought the 
bloody battle of Knockavoe, otherwise *the breach of loch Monann/ by 
Strabane, in which O'Neill was defeated and had 900 men killed ; for his end, 
see Extracts ad loc. His son and successor, Manus, compiled the life of 
S. Columbkill now in the Bodleian, (ii) The contemporary Seaan mac an 
iarla was *John of Desmond/ son of Thomas of Drogheda above, eighth 
Earl; consequently brother of Mac Carthy-Riach's wife Kathleen Fitzgerald. 
He is accused of having procured the death of his own brother, James (ninth 
Earl), whom John manntach mac Edmond, a Geraldine of the Mac Gibbon 
branch, beheaded at Rathkeale in 1487, aged twenty-nine years. For this 
deed James's son Maurice (tenth Earl) banished his uncle John, and had 
Shane manntach cut into many pieces, one of which with his head was 
exposed in the shambles of Limerick, the rest being distributed to other 
cities. In 1 5 16 Shane mac an iarla was besieged in the castle of loch Our 
(county Limerick) by earl Maurice's son James and Mac Carthy-Riach (Donall 
mac Finghin), his grandnephews, with other Mac Carthys. Shane's wife 
being More, daughter of Murrough mac Brian Duff O'Brien, he appealed to 
her kin and, before long, the men of Thomond appeared in such force that 
tbey of Desmond raised the siege: IV M ad ann., and Toma mac Toma 
O'Mulconry's Irish record of the Desmonds, written after the death of James 
mac Maurice above, eleventh Earl, t June i8th, 1529. (iii) The Mac Eochaids 
* M'Keoghs' were hereditary chief poets of Leinster : see divers of their i6th 
cent, poems in Úi^ Leadhar branach *Book of the O'Bymes,' H. i. 17 in Trinity 
College, Dublin. Who their head was at our story's period does not appear, 
(iv) It is not certain which O'Conor-Sligo the romancer means : Felim mac 
Manus mac Brian, 'a charitable and humane man' (IV M), 1 1519; whether 
he be the man or not, his Munster expedition (like all that is ascribed to the 
other real characters) is fictitious, (v) O'Kelly of Hy-Many (Teigue mac 
Melachlin), head of the whole name, 1 1513; O'Kelly of the Callow (Teigue 
Rua mac Melachlin), head of a sept of the úi MainCy 1 1519. (vi) The actual 
Mac Murrough- Kavanagh, in virtue of descent from Diarynaidna ngall * D. of 
the English,' who first invited Strongbow over, was always styled * king of 
Leinster' ; ours must be Art Buie mac Donall Riach already alluded to, 1 1 5 17. 
(vii) The O'Donellans were hereditary bards to the O'Conors-Connacht ; two 
other branches of them there were, both in Ulster, and all poets by profession. 
The Shane CDonellan from whose house the Kern is lost to view for good 
and all was doubtless a contemporary of the composer's. These identifica- 
tions are thrown out merely as starting-points for the curious, who also may 
accept it that the tale was written, if not during Black Hugh's life, very soon 
after his death in 1537 ; and perhaps no one laughed at it more heartily than 
would Manus his son who, though as a chief he was a man of the sword and 
one that stood no nonsense, was yet a great wit and good versifier, as witness 
his many epigrams in dan direch that have come down. He more especially 
loved occasionally to run a-tilt at his good friends and devoted adherents, the 
Franciscan brethren of DonegaL 

XIX. Bodach an chóta lachtna 'the Carle of the Drab Coat,' 

xiv Preface. 

from Egerton 154: a 19th cent paper MS. in the British Museum, 
written by Edward O'Reilly. Herein mention is made of the 
baron of Inchiquin's house, but that peer's identity is concealed. 
Considering that the first earl of Thomond and baron was created 
in 1543, í^ would have been invidious to specify which of them 
was contemporary with Finn mac Cumall. 

XX. Leighes coise Chain * the Leeching of Cian's leg' : from 
Egerton 178 1. The historical personages are Brian of the 
Tribute, his sons, and Cian son of Bran. The repetition of * by 
thy hand ' as an asseveration is farcical, but ' das ding an sich ' is 
true to nature: it was customary to swear by the chiefs hand. 

XXI. Bruidhen chiise Chorainn * the Enchanted Cave of Kesh- 
corran' (county Sligo) : from Additional 18,747. Here bruidhen 
is used in its secondary sense: see XXVI. 

XXII. Fotha chatha Mucramha 'Occasion of the battle of 
Mucramh' (county Galway), with particulars of the battle, and 
its consequences, from leabhar Glinne da locha 'the Book of 
Glendaloch,' now better known as * the Book of Leinster ' : a 
large-folio vellum MS. in Trinity College, Dublin ; who the 
scribe or scribes were is not certain, but marginalia shew that 
it was (when as yet in process of compilation) in the hands 
of Finn Mac Gorman, bishop of Kildare, -f-iioo. The con- 
jecture of some that he had at any rate a great share in the 
writing of its older part is supported by two passages that have 
been much misinterpreted: the bishop's letter* in lower margin 
of p. 288 ; and a colophon to the tain bo Cuailgne, p. 104 )8, the 
tone of which is that of a grave churchman much rather than of 
an ordinary lay scribe. In one or two places the text of our 
piece is not quite satisfactory. 

^ Partly defaced, but having no inherent obscurity whatever ; it runs, and 
should be pointed, thus : — " [Betha] ocus sláinte ó Fhiunn epscup chilli Dara 
do Aed mac Chrhnthainn . do fhiur leigind ardríg leithi moga Nuadat . ocus 
do chomarbu Choluim meic Chrimthainn . ocus do phrfmsenchaid Laigen ar 
gaeis ocus eolas ocus trebaire lebar ocus fessa ocus foglomma . ocus scribthar 
dam deired in sceoil bicse. Cu cinnte dait a Aeid amnais . a fhir cosinnaeib 
ollmais ' cian gar [d'aen bith] it ingnais . mian dam do bith [fnm deghais]. 
Tucthar dam duanaire meic Lonáin confaiccmis a cialla na nduan filet ann 
et uaU in Ckristo^ i.e. " Life and health from Finn, bishop of Kildare, to Aedh 
mac Cnmthann, i.e. to the professor of the king of the southern half of Ireland 
[Dermot na ngall Mac Murrough], to the representative of Columba son of 
Crimthann, to Leinster's prime antiquary for wisdom, skill, and cultivation 

Preface. xv 

of books, knowledge, learning, and be the end of this little tale written for 
me. [Independent quatrain :] O keen Aedh, be it to thee a thing certified, 
thou man of fairest and pleasurable qualities, that, be it long or be it short 
that any other shall be without frequenting thee, 'tis my desire to have thee 
[ever] conveniently near to myself. [Postscript :] Let the book of [Flann] 
mac Lonan's poems be given me that I may see the meaning of the pieces 
that are in it, and fare thee well in Christ" Be it observed that Dr. Todd's 
version (Introd. to facs., p. 8 a) violates all idiom, and is based (i) on the 
erroneous supposition that prose and quatrain are consecutive matter (ii) on 
the fallacy thereout arising: that, because prep, do with verbal noun forms a 
certain and peculiar construction, it must do the same with a tense ; which is 
not the case. The * little tale' is our XXII above and, as I understand it, the 
Bishop was transcribing it when his copy gave out. Wexhsscribthar^ tucthar^ are 
neither indie nor subj. but imperatives : not the imperious, but that of request, 
supplication, as in prayers, e.g. 'ora pro nobis' 'da nobis hodie.' Brackets in 
the quatrain enclose mere suggestions, but the sense is quite obvious. 

XXIII. Cath Chrinna 'the Battle of Crínna': from the Book 
of Lismore. The central figure of the tale is Teigue, son of 
Olioll Olom's son Cian, progenitor of the various tribes called 
Cianacht, In stories relating to this individual there always is 
an element of humoun That one which told how he and a deer 
killed each one the other at Rosnaree on the Boyne is lost 

XXIV. Echtra mhac nEchach * Adventure of Eochaid's Sons' : 
from the Book of Ballymote. Here we are told how and where 
Niall of the nine Hostages^ was born and, in an allegory,* how 
he attained to pre-eminence over his half-brethren.' 

^ From whose sons Conall (si. 464) and Eoghan (t 465) sprang the two 
great tribes known as cinél Conaill ' kind, or race, of Conall,' cinél Eoghain 
* race of Eoghan'; their countries being tir Conaill ^ Q,^s land,' Hr Eoghain 
*E.'sland,' anglicised *Tirconnell* and * Tirowen' * Tyrone.' Of the various 
septs or 'nations' comprised in either, the O'Donnells eventually became 
paramount in the former, the O'Neills in the latter ; and their internecine 
rivalry, which endured for nearly a thousand years and before Kinsale in 1602 
culminated in the ruin of both, was such that later poets feigned Conall and 
Eoghan to have been twins bom in grips, either clutching the other by a 
shoulder and a wrist, thus portending future discord (e.g. Teigue dall in iad 
féin chinnios or chloinn Néill^ circ. 1590). The annals however record that 
Eoghan died of grief for Conall's death. 

' This stock parable of a hideous crone whom the approach of a fearless 
lover transforms into a miracle of beauty personating (according to circum- 
stances) either sovereignty over Ireland or chiefry of a clan, signified that these 
prizes fell to energy and the strong hand. 

• The most celebrated of these was Brian, progenitor of the tribe called úi 
Bhriuin ' nepotes Briani,' the subdivisions of which were distinguished by 

xvi Preface. 

their localities, as úi Bkriuin seola^ bréifne^ etc. ; after the establishment of 
surnames their chief septs were the O'Conors-Connacht, O'Conors-Sligo, 
O'Conors-Donn, O'Conors-Rua (all in Connacht), O'Flahertys, O'Reillys and 
O'Rourkes (see the Book of Rights, p. 107, note r). Note that the O'Conors- 
Faly (in K.'s and Q/s cos.) were of Leinster origin, from Cahir More's son 
Ros failgke ; OConors-Corcomrua (in Clare) and O'Conors- Kerry, of the 
clanna-Rury in Ulidia ; and the O'Conors of Glengiven (county Deny), in 
which they have been numerous in our own times, are of the Cianacht or 
posterity of Teigue son of Cian. 

XXV.^ Death of king Crimthann son of Fidach, and of Brian, 
Ailill, Fiachra, three of his predecessor Eochaid's sons : from the 
Book of Ballymote. Here we meet with the use of poison, which 
as an instrument of crime occurs but very seldom in the huge 
corpus of Irish legend ; in Irish history, so far as I can recollect, 
not at all. Even to the race they hated so bitterly, the very 
Elizabethans did not impute such practices.* 

* The reader will please to observe that in the Extracts (both text and 
translation) this piece is misnumbered XXVI. 

* They did better: they themselves had recourse to them. In 1563 lord 
deputy Sussex (using one Thomas Smyth as his tool) sought with a present 
of poisoned wine to rid *the State' of Shane O'Neill, and came near to suc- 
ceed. O'Neill addressed a remonstrance to Elizabeth, and she expressed 
great indignation at the attempt (Sta. Pa., Ir., Eliz. ix, no. 32). 

XXVI. Bruidhen b/ug na JtAlmaine ^ ih^ little Brawl at Almh- 
ain*:^ from Additional 18,747. Good version of a tale which, 
according to O'Curry, is not very common. 

^ As in the case of XVI II, this English title too is an innovation on the 
accepted rendering: *the little Fort of Almhain.' In the first place, no doubt 
whatever but that primarily bruidhen (n. f., gen. bruidhne) means, not a fort, 
but a royal or other mansion for hospitality on a large scale, and in that sense 
is frequent in tales. According to a mem. in Lismore f. 158^: 2 and else- 
where, there were in Ireland five prime or special bruidkens (to which some 
added a sixth), being of this construction : each one had seven doors, was 
traversed by seven alleys, and had seven hearths; every hearth with its 
cauldron that held a beef and a pig in bacon. Secondly, these bruidhens are 
the subject of as many tales' relating, with variet>' of time and circumstance, 
how during banquets they severally were surprised, stormed and destroyed, 
with whole or partial slaughter of the revellers. Hence in the title of a story 
the term bruidhen alone indicates sufficiently that it is one of violence in 
some form, but connected with a dwelling; the full formula being toghail 
bruidhne * the taking ' * demolition ' of a given mansion. In the body of other 
narratives bruidhen therefore often occurs in a secondary sense, implying a 
ruse or device for violent purposes, e.g. do chuir sé bruidhen roime * he set a 
bruidhen for him* ; do bhi bruidhen aige ar muir agus bruidhen ar Hr * he had 

Preface. xvii 

one such on sea, and another on land ' : where clearly there cannot be ques* 
tion of an actual edifice. To-day, colloquially, the word signifies ' a quarrel ' 
* dissension ' ' ruction * : tdrrla bruidhen ecUarra * there hiippened a row between 
them'; duine bruidhentack ^a quarrelsome person'; and such would seem to 
be the meaning in our title. Consider these points : — (i) Here we have a 
^n//<^Si^yi-dwelling, but neither is it stormed nor destroyed, (ii) If this was 
a small or lesser ^fort' (let us call it), where or what was the gre!iter? It is 
not mentioned, nor does adj. beg ' little ' appear except in the title, (iii) The 
bountiful great hall of Almhain is notorious in Ossianic lore ; we do not hear 
of any subsidiary refectory, (iv) The dwelling that seated such a company 
cannot have been a small one ; and this last suggests : to what then does the 
•little' refer? surely the broil in which so many fell was a big one. True; 
but the adj. is employed playfully, to emphasize the fact that not a sword was 
drawn nor spear thrown : the aflfair began with a buflfet, and never proceeded 
to anything worse than sledge-hammers ; it was in fact merely 'a glove fight.' 

XXVII. Echira Thaidg mheic Chain 'the Adventure of Cian's 
son Teigue ' : from the Book of Lismore. The progenitor of the 
various Cianachta is presented as true to his reputation for ' bon- 
hommie ' and shrewdness. When Verrinsajnjhe island tells him 
that Connla Rua and she after all those years passed together, 
and they loving each other, are still as it were strangers, Teigue's 
comment: is aebda ocus is ait sin amounts to 'c'est magnifique 
mais ce n'est pas la guerre,' exactly. Amongst other localities, I 
leave * the land of Fresen ' to scientific geographers ; the name 
of * Fresenius' is not unknown to students of chemistry: is it of 
Fresenic origin ? 

XXVIII. Boramka* the Boromean Tribute': from the Book 
of Leinster; a history, so far as it extends,^ of that famous 
imposts origin and of difficulties experienced in levying it 
during the succeeding ages.* 

^ i.e. from king Tuathal techtmar t io6, who first instituted the tax, to 
S. Moling of Luachair 1 596, who procured its remission. 

* From the most remote times collection of any kind of dues has in Ireland 
been a ticklish business ; the extraordinary tale called * the Siege of Cnoc 
damhgaire^ near Knocklong (county Limerick), is based on king Cormac's 
attempt forcibly to exact his revenue from Munster, a province which appears 
to have habitually and successfully been refractory to the monarchs, i.e. kings 
of all Ireland as distinguished from the five provincial kings. As for the dos 
*rent' (so Elizabethans rendered it, and such it means to-day) or tribute which 
the urradka * subordinate chiefs ' paid to their chief paramount, it had to be 
taken. In English a chiefs urradha were called his * gentlemen': thus 
CConor-Sligo was O'Donnell's gendeman, and continually it needed hundreds 
of swords and axes (many of whom never saw Tirconall again) to persuade 
him to his duty. The following again were O'Conor-Sligo's gentlemen 


xviii Preface. 

O'Dowda, O'Gara, 0»Hara-Buie, O'Hara-Riach, O'Hart, Mac Donough of 
the Corann and Mac Donough of Tirerrill, who all were just as reluctant to 
part. The whole theory is summed up in a still lively tradition of the follow- 
ing correspondence (incorrectly given in the Abbe Mageoghegan's Histoire 

d'Irlande): cuir chugam mo chtos no mara gcuirir ntise O Domhnaill 

i.e. " send me my rent, or if not O'DoNNELL " ; answer : n£ fhuil cios 

agat arm agus da mbiadh mise O Neill i.e. " I owe you no rent, and if I 

did O'Neill." Fictitious if you will, but typical. 

XXIX. Fragmentary Annals: from Egerton 1782, In this 
tract, as well as in I, II, V, VI, XXVIII, it will be noticed 
that some outrageously discreditable dodges (the only condign 
word) are laid to the charge of eminent saints. The late William 
Reeves, D.D., and John O'Donovan,^ have commented severely 
on passages of this nature ; arguing that, while they manifestly 
are fabulous, the fact of their concoction betrays the low moral 
standard of whatever age it was that gave them birth. I confess 
that I cannot take the matter quite so seriously : these episodes 
have all the appearance of broad caricatures drawn to raise a 
laugh,^ and perhaps the worst that can be said of them is that 
they are not in the taste of our day ; even as Gilray's and Row- 
landson's political cartoons would no longer attract a generation 
accustomed to John Tenniel. It is idle to suppose that the native 
Irish writers of remote times, whose general tone indubitably is 
that of gentlemen writing for gentlemen, knew no better than 
seriously to credit men like S. Columbkill and Adamnan, for 
instance, with conduct worthy of Til Eulenspiegel. 

^ The former in his Adamnan's Life of Columba, the latter in his ed. of 
part of this piece. 

* Nor were the heroes so sacred but that they too were victims of burlesque : 
in the tale of Illann ilchrothach (the king of Spain's son), Finn and Ossian 
not only * funk,' but act with incredible meanness ; the Stowe copy oftochmarc 
Eimre * the Wooing of Eimer' is immediately followed by a short story : aithed 
Eimre re mac righ Lochlann * Rimer's Elopement with the king of Lochlann's 
son,' in which Ireland's paragon of chastity and fidelity (at that time CuchuUin's 
wife) is pourtrayed as shameless and unfaithful. The quatrains appended to 
this bit sufficiently mark the writer's spirit ; and it must be remembered that, 
as inter alia many of their sobriquets shew, the Irish were (and indeed are 
still) particularly fond of the joke per antiphrasin. 

XXX. Story of a Wicked Girl of the Greeks : from the Book 
of Leinster ; not of Irish origin, but selected merely on account 
of its suitable length.^ 

Preface. xix 

^ Some peculiar constructions there are in this tale, which can be more 
accurately rendered in Latin. The style is not Ciceronian, it is true ; but 
there is no knowing what TuUy might have written had he translated literally 
from Irish. He would have been none the worse for being able to do so. 

XXXI. Abacuc's Perjury : from the Book of Leinster. How 
one bearing a Hebrew name* chanced to be at the Convention 
of Taillte is not explained. 

' It has been put through a process of folk-etjrmology the intermediate 
stage of which we see p. 78 of tr., and the last in Maurice O'Conor's copy of 
Keating's History: — "A.D. 517: do ghab Tuathal maelgharb mac Chormaic 
chaoich meic Chairbre meic NéiU naoighiallaig do shiol Eiremhóin ríogacht 
£irenn trí bliadna dég. is fá'n am so do thuit a chenn do bhacach i naonach 
Thaillten Xx€ láimh Chiaráin do thabairt i néithech . agus do mhair sé cheithre 
bliadna mar sin idir na manchaib gan chenn" i.e. ^ A.D. 517 : Tuathal nuxel- 
gharb^ son of Cormac caech son of Niall 9 H. of the seed of Heremon, had 
the kingdom of Ireland for thirteen years. At this time it was that his head 
fell from a beggar in the Convention of Taillte through his having sworn by 
Kieran's hand in a lie ; in which plight he lived among the monks, headless» 
for four years " (Eg. 1 12, f. 348 b). 

Our tales being disposed of thus, let us collect a few items of 
evidence as to the nature and pecttliarities of the people with 
whom they originated. First comes Strabo (fcirc. A.D. 25), say- 
ing that Ireland lies to the north of Britain, that the inhabitants 
are wilder than the Britons, are cannibals with enormous appetites, 
and consider it but decent to eat their defunct fathers ; the simple 
anthropophagy he excuses by alleging that it is a Scythian habit 
too, while Gauls, Iberians and very many others have resorted 
to it in siege extremities. They had, says he, peculiar notions as 
to degrees of consanguinity ; but the great geographer, like the 
honest man he was, warns us that he had no corroborators 
worthy of credit* Pomponius Mela, in the first cent., will not 

^ "Blei 9k Kai SXXat mpl rijfv BpiTTavixijv vn^u fwe^l /leyaXif i* r) *lk(nni vphg apierov 
avrj wapcífií^fifiitni rrpofi^taii: fiSKKuv fl irXarog ixovua. mpl 17c oifdiv ix^f^^ \iytiv 
aa^C 9rX}}v 'ótí aypuuTtpot rutv Bptrravutv vrrápxovirip oi KaToucovvrec aitrriv AvOpta' 
vo^yoi ik ovTt^ fccu iroXv^ayot tovq re irarcpac TtkivriieccvTSii KanoBUiv ev icoA^ 
rc0cficvo(. col ravra i* ovria Xkyofuv itg ovk íxovtíq c^íowiarovQ fiáprvpaC' xairoi ró ye 
Tiic áv9pfai9ro^aytac Kat ^vOixov dvai Xkyirai cat kv dvaycaic 9roXu)pci7rucaic teat 
KeXroi Kal'iptipst; Kai dXXoc rrXeiovQ irot^^ai rovro Xkyovrai (IV. v, 4). The verifier 
will perceive this excerpt to be very slightly contracted. That ornament of 
the Porch, Chrysippus, wrote up to a thousand lines inculcating that survivors 
are bound to eat their dead : — kv 9k t<P Tlepl iroXireíac cat fuirpaai Xayci fTvvkQx^<'' 
Oai tal Ovyarpavt Kai vtoifi' rd S* avrá ^ri<ri Kai kv rtf Jlepi t&v fi^ 9i kavra aiptriSiv 


XX Preface. 

allow that there is any element whatever of good in them : 
ignorant of all virtues they are, devoid of piety.^ Lastly (of the 
ancients), in the second century Solinus, pedant and plagiarist, 
writes that the new-born Irish man-child had its first solid 
nutriment gently administered by the mother on the point of 
her husband's sword, the while she uttered gentile prayers that 
by such weapon her offspring [having lived by it] might even- 
tually and honourably die in war.* 

Now let us hear the famous Jesuit Edmond Campion, a 
Londoner and graduate of Oxford. Under date of June* the 
9th, 1 57 1, he writes in the preface to his Irish narrative :^ — 

(i) Irish chronicles, although they be reported to be full fraught of lewde 
examples, idle tales and genealogies, * et quicquid Graecia mendax audet in 
historia'; yet concerning the state of that wild people I am persuaded that 
with choice and judgment I might have sucked thence some better store 
of matter, and gladly would have sought them, had I found an interpreter 
or understood their tongue: the one [interpreters] so rare that scarcely 
five in five hundred can skill thereof; the other so hard that it asketh con- 
tinuance in the land of more yeares than I had months to spare about the 

Upon the authority no doubt of his entertainer J. Stanihurst, 
Recorder of Dublin and Speaker of the Irish Commons, an 
Englishman, he characterises the natives : — 

(ii) The people are thus inclined : religious, franke, amorous, irefull, suffer- 
able of paines infinite, very glorious [glorieux], many sorcerers, excellent horse- 

ci'dvc cv ^Xy* ^'^ ^^ "^V 7 Hepi Sixaiov Kara rove XtXtovj; arixovg Kai roifg aTroOavóvrac 
KaTBoOittv ke\£V(ov (Diog. Laert. in vit. Chrys.). In the other respects our heathen 
Irish were not genuine Stoics, inasmuch as it was only Bacchus that rapt 
them to do what the Greek preached, and they were much ashamed after- 
wards ; Brantóme and Tallemant des Réaux tell us what some perfectly sober 
Christians did : not casually, but habitually and ex professo, and there are 
those that know what goes on now-a-days. As for Extract XXIX. xiv, refer- 
ring to Christian times, it must be believed * per impossibile' or not at all. 

* Cultores ejus [Ivernae] inconditi sunt, et omnium virtutum ignari, pietatis 
expertes (III. vi, 65). 

* Puerpera siquando marem edidit primes cibos gladio imponit mariti, 
inque os parvuli summo mucrone auspicium alimentorum leviter infert, et 
gentilibus votis optat non aliter quam in bello et inter arma mortem oppetat 
(cap. 35). It must be confessed that, during sixteen hundred years at least, 
the far-reaching efficacity of their pagan orisons was abundantly manifest 
in those ladies' remote descendants. 

» Edition of 1809. 

Preface. xxí 

men,' delighted with warres, great almsgivers, passing in hospitalitie ; the 
lewder sort (both clarkes and laymen) are sensuall and loose above measure. 
They are sbarpe witted, lovers of learning, capable of any studie whereunto 
they bend themselves, constant in travaile, adventurous, intractable, kinde- 
hearted, secret in displeasure (p. 19). 

(iii) In some comers of the land they used a damnable superstition, leaving 
the right armes of their infants males unchristened (as they tearmed it), to the 
intent it might give a more ungracious and deadly blow (p. 2 r). 

(iv) I found a fragment of an epistle wherein a vertuous monke declareth 
that to him (travailing in Ulster) came a grave gentleman about Easter 
desirous to be confessed and houseled, who in all his life had nev^r yet 
received the blessed Sacrament When he had said his minde, the priest 
demanded him whether he were faultlesse in the sinne of homicide? hee 
answered that hee never wist the matter to be hainous before ; but being 
instructed thereof he confessed the murther of five : the rest he left wounded 
so as he knew not whether they lived or no. Then was he taught that both 
the one and the other were execrable, and verie meekelie humbled himself to 
repentance {ibid,). 

(v) One office in the house of a great man is a tale teller, who bringeth his 
lord on sleepe with tales vain and frivolous, whereunto the number give sooth 
and credence. So light they are in beleeving whatsoever is with any counte- 
nance of gravitie affirmed by their superiours whom they esteem and honour, 
that a lewd prelate within these few yeares needy of money was able to per- 
swade his parish that S. Patricke, in striving with S. Peter to let an Irish 
galloglass into Heaven, had his head broken with the keyes ; for whose relief 
he obtained a collection (p. 25). 

(vi) Where they fancie and favour they are wonderfull kinde. They 
exchange by commutation of wares for the most part, and have utterly no 
coyne stirring in any great lords' houses.^ Some of them are richly plated ; 
their ladies are trimmed rather with massie jewels than with garish apparell ; 
it is counted a beautie in them to be tall, round and fat (p. 28). 

So far a writer who, when he comes to deal with contemporary 
events in Ireland, discloses great rancour. Better for him he 
had tarried with the wild men that never harmed him, or in some 
of the lands which he visited after them ; when he returned, his 
own highly civilised countrymen rewarded his John-Bullism with 
a degree higher than any he had taken at Oxford : in fact, on 
the 1st of December, 1581, they hanged and quartered him. 

A far more equitable writer was Richard Stanihurst,^ son of 

^ Writers are fond of remarking either that history repeats itself^ or that 
history does not repeat itself, according to their exigency. It is safe to affirm 
that here the former aphorism is the one in point. 

' Bom in Dublin 1552, 1 1618. Except in the accident of his birth he was 
an Englishman : could not speak Irish, a defect which in that day quite shut 

xxií Preface. 

the Recorder and Speaker above, and (like Campion) a Roman 
Catholic priest ; his 'Description of Ireland' is printed in Ralph 
Holinshed's Chronicles.^ Several of his passages are identical 
with Campion's, which is not surprising ; but the following are 
his own. Under heading of " The disposition and manners of 
the meere Irish, commonlie called the wild Irish*' we find : — 

(vii) The men are clean of skin and hew, of stature tall. The women are 
well favoured, cleane coloured, faire handed, big and large, suffered from 
their infancie to grow at will, nothing curious^ of their feature and proportion 
of body. Their infants (they of the meaner sort) are neither swadled nor 
lapped in linen, but folded up starke naked in a blanket till they can go 

(p. 44 : 2)- 

(viii) Greedie of praise they be, and fearefull of dishonor, and to this end 
they esteem their poets who write Irish learnedlie and pen their sonnets 
beroicall, for which they are bountifully rewarded; if not, they send out 
libels in dispraise {ibid,), 

(ix) The Irish man standeth so much upon his gentilitie that he termeth 
anie one of the English sept, and planted [bom and settled] in Ireland, 
* bobdeagh galteagh \bodach galldd^ that is : * English churle ' ; but if he be an 
Englishman borne, then he nameth him * bobdeagh saxonagh \bodcich sac- 
sanach\^ that is : a ' Saxon churle' ; so that both are churles, and he the onelie 

(x) They observe divers degrees, according to which each man is regarded. 
The basest sort among them are little yoong wags called 'Dal tins [dail- 
HnedhaY',^ these are lackies and are serviceable to the groomes and horse- 
boies, who are a degree above the ' daltins.' Of the third degree is the Kerne, 
who is an ordinary [private] soldier using for his weapon sword and target. 
Kerne signifieth (as noble men of deepe iudgement informed me) * a shower 
of Hell,'* because they are taken for no better than for rakehels, or the di veil's 

him off from intercourse with natives ; in political feeling was thoroughly 
English, was a sufficiently severe critic, yet had some sense of fair play and 
wrote without bitterness. 

* Holinshed as well was a churchman 1 1593; our excerpts are from the 
ed. of 1583. 

^ i.e. ' careful,' in the way of using artificial aids : as corsets and more. 

* The word dailtin is still in common use : bishop O'Brien in his dictionary 
rightly explains it by 'a jackanapes, a puppy, an impertinent insignificant 

* i.e. as though ceithem (n.f. of number: a body, regiment, of the men 
individually called ceathaniacK) were a corruption of cith ifrinn Mmber 
infemi'; thus man-o'-war's-men * of deepe iudgement' called the old*Bel- 
lerophon' the * Billy-ruffian' and, etymologically, with as much reason. There 
is no Hibemo-english equivalent for ceathamach^ but the vocable (pron. 
ceaihranach) is often introduced in speaking English, in the sense of *a 
rowdy' and so forth ; the Scots make it 'cateran,' a Highland freebooter. 

Preface. xxiii 

blacke gard, byreasing of the stinking sturre [sco. *stour*]they keepe where- 
soever they be. The fourth degree is a Galloglasse, using a kind of pollax 
for his weapon. These men are commonlie weieward rather by profession 
than by nature : grim of countenance, tall of stature, big of lim, burlie of 
bodie, well and strongly timbered, chieilie feeding on beefe, porke, and butter. 
The lift degree is to be an Horsseman, which is the chiefest next the lord and 
captaine. These horssemen, when they have no stale of their owne, gad and 
range from house to house like arrant knights of the round table, and they 
never dismount untill they ride into the hall and as farre as the table 

(P- 45 : 0- 

(xi) To rob and spoile their enimies they deeme it none offense, nor seeke 
anie meanes to recover their losse but even to watch them the like tume ; but 
if neighbors and friends [blood relatives] send their purveiors to purloine one 
another, such actions are iudged by the breighons [breitheamhain ' brehons ' 
•judges '] aforesaid (p. 45 : 2). 

Their food, dress, language, shall be barely glanced at : — 

(xii) No meat they fansie so much as porke, and the fatter the better. One 
of John O'Nel's [Shane O'Neill's] household demanded of his fellow whether 
beefe were better than porke ; "that (quoth the other) is as intricat a ques- 
tion as to ask whether thou art better than O'Nele" (Stanihurst, lib. cit 
p. 45:1). 

(xiii) Their plenty of grasse makes the Irish have infinite multitudes of 
cattle ; and in the heate of the late rebellion [1598 — 1603] the very vagabond 
rebels had great multitudes of cowes which they stil (like the nomades) drove 
with them whether soever themselves were driven, and fought for them as for 
their altars and families (Fynes Moryson's Itinerary, pt. III. iv, 5: ed. 1617, 
p. 160). They feede most on whitmeates, and esteeme for a great dainty 
sower curds, vulgarly called by them ^ bonaclabbe ' ^ ; and for this cause they 
watchfully keepe their cowes, and fight for them as for religion and life (p. 163). 

(xiv) Linnen shirts the rich doe weare for wantonnesse and bravery, with 
wide hanging sleeves, playted ; thirtie yards are little enough for one of them. 
They have now left their saffron, and leame to wash their shirts four or five 
times in a yeare (Campion, lib. cit. p. 24). 

(xv) Ireland yeelds much flax, which the inhabitants work into yame, and 
export the same in great quantity. And of old they had such plenty of linnen 
cloth as the wild Irish used to weare thirty or forty elles in a shirt, al gathered 
and wrinckled [i.e. * kilted'] and washed in saffron, because they never put 
them off til they were wome out* (Moryson, ubi supra). 

* i.e. bainne clabair * cXott^á m\\k^ =bainne reamkar * thick milk,' according 
to locality. 

* Friend Fynes's veracity cannot be dealt with here ; but in the same breath 
he tells us that they slept naked. This had been the custom of Europe : — 
Cest que nos aleux couchaient nus, ainsi que nos aieules. Cette nudité 
nocturne était encore usitée au temps de Charles VII. [1403 — 1461]. Toutes 
les miniatures de nos vieux manuscrits, méme les gravures de nos premiers 
imprímés gothiques, jusqu'á Frangois ler [1494— 1547I, s'accordent á placer 

xxiv Preface. 

(xvi) The tongue is sharp and sententious, offereth great occasion to quicke 
apothegmes and proper allusions ; wherefore their common iesters, bards, 
and rhymers, are said to delight passingly them that conceive the grace and 
propriety of the tongue. But the true Irish indeed difFereth so much from 
that they commonly speake, that scarce one among five score can either 
write, read, or understand it ; therefore it is prescribed among certaine their 
poets and students of antiquitie (Campion, lib. cit. p. 17). 

(xvii) And in verie deed the language carrieth such difficultie with it, what 
for the strangenesse of the phrase and the curious featness of the pronuncia- 
tion, that a verie few of the countrie can attein to the perfection thereof;* 
and much lesse a forrener or stranger (Stanihurst, lib. cit p. 12: 2). 

A possible objection, that these illustrations (as being com- 
paratively modern) cannot well bear on tales of much earlier 
ages, may be forestalled by observing that down to 1600 the old 
Irish way of life had not known solution of continuity: so far 
had English influences been from prevailing, that the reverse took 
place. Within an incredibly short period numbers of the Norman 
arrivals flung off* their surcoats and the rest to don the Irish shirt 
and trews ; they were of fine linguistic capacity, and lost no time 
in procuring the best dictionaries extant : Strongbow himself 
chose Dermot Mac Murrough's beautiful sister Eva, while the 
de Burgos [* Bourkes '] went to intermarrying with the O'Briens ; 
and so with others, whose * chiefest books were women's looks, 
which right good Irish taught them.' Then they took bards and 
brehons, and became the * Hibernis ipsis hiberniores ' of Henry 
the VIII's time. The assimilating power was so great that 
Stanihurst complains : — 

(xviii) The verie English of birth, conversant with the savage sort of that 
people became degenerat and, as though they had tasted of Ceres' poisoned 
cup, are quite altered (lib. cit p. 45 : 2). 

The general reader, it may be, will not find much to interest 
him in the few remarks that follow ; but the book's welfare and 
a pardonable regard for my own safety necessitate them :— 

In preparing this collection of Irish tales I have followed lines 

dans un état complet de nudité toutes les personnes qu*elles représentent 
au lit (Antony Meray, la Vie au temps des Cours d' Amour: Paris 1876, pp. 
229-31-33). This for princes, knights, and dames of high degree ; every- 
where the people shewed themselves in this respect strong conservatives. 

* This remark and Campion's are but as though in respect of Chaucer, 
Shelley's * Revolt of Islam,' Tennyson's *In Memoriam,' and Browning's 
poems, one said so much of the English populace. 

Preface. xxv 

of tny own, begotten of a theory that these studies can be 
popularised only by a division of labour. Accordingly I aspire 
to a role no higher than that of the humble quarryman who 
painfully gets the rough stuff, winds it to the surface, and there 
leaves it to be dealt with as they list by stonecutter and sculptor, 
architect and engineer: here is raw material for 'keltologue* 
and * philologue,' for folklorist, comparative mytholog^st, and 
others. Personally I cannot boast of being anything that ends 
in either *-logue* or *-ist': that is to say in these countries; 
were I back in the United States, I should of course profess at 
least the arts of * breathist,* ' eatist,' * sleepist,' and * walkist' 

The plan of campaign (for campaign it is) demanding that 
anything outside of Irish matter and its equivalent in English 
should be a minimum, while it was needful that to non-experts 
should be given some sort of foothold in an otherwise hopeless 
morass of names and events entirely new to them and devoid 
of dates, in preference to a body of cheap second-hand notes 
pillaged from the printed works of John O'Donovan I have 
appended the Extracts. For two reasons the text of these is 
not and ought not to be in the Irish volume: firstly, this latter 
was in the binder's hands before it occurred to me to add such 
an appendix ; secondly, the impression of this English volume 
largely exceeds that of the other. 

This has no claim to be a critical edition: where an editor is 
denied the opportunity of comparing different versions, such a 
thing is impossible ; apart from which, the work could not be 
extended and retarded indefinitely. I hope just to see it occupy 
the rank which Orientalists agree in according to products of the 
native presses of Stamboul, Cairo, and Boulaq: that of a good 
and careful manuscript. Of set purpose or, as some would have 
it, of malice prepense, I have in the direction of uniformity 
tampered somewhat with the orthography {and that alone) of my 
sources, and have accentuated. In this the student beginning his 
Celtic studies will find his account, and thereby much space has 
been saved ; details of the method will provisionally appear else- 
where. It may be well to add that it is not suitable to all texts, 
nor to all editors ; in the case of these pieces and their editor it 
appeared to me to be legitimate. 

By the way of bibliography it may be mentioned that VII, text 

xxvi Preface. 

with German tr., was printed by Ernst Windisch* in 1884 ; VIII, 
another version, from the Book of Lecan, by Brian O'Looney* in 
1870; XIII is printed in the Kilkenny Archaeological Society's 
Journal (4th series, i p. 96) by J. O'Beirne-Crowe, whom also I 
knew : one whose great amount of real knowledge was marred 
by eccentric fancies in translation ; a Highland tale having the 
same name as XX, but without other common element, ap- 
pears in * Fire-side Stories': D. Nutt, London, 1890; XXII and 
XXVIII are edited by Whitley Stokes in Revue Celtique^ xiii ; 
a portion of XXIX is comprised in John O'Donovan's * Three 
Fragments,* edited in i860 from a paper MS. written more than 
a century after Eg. 1782, a codex with which he does not appear 
to be familiar ; with XXX compare LXXVII in Sir Frederick 
Madden's Early English versions of the Gesta Romanorum, from 
Add. 9066 (re-edited by Sidney J. H. Herrtage in 1879), p. 394: 
* Of the penance of a Woman which had committed three Mur- 
ders,' also Méon's Nouveau recueil de Fabliaux et Contes (Paris 
1823), ii 256: *de la Roine qui ocist son Senechal,' and le Grand's 
Fabliaux (Paris 1781) v 189. This hint I owe to Norman Moore. 
What with O'Curry's *MS. Materials' and 'Manners and Cus- 
toms,' d'Arbois de Jubainville's ' Essai d'un Catalogue,* and the 
R. I. A. facsimiles, the inquirer need not be at a loss respecting 
other MS. versions. 

From those facsimiles it is that the pieces referred to LU, LL, 
LB and BB, are derived : the last of these is photographed ; the 
first three, lithographed, are noble monuments of modern Irish 
penmanship, and deserved better than that the able and inoffen- 
sive man (last of a line of scribes) who executed them should 

^ Professor of Sanskrit in the University of Leipsic, one of the few dis- 
tinguished continental scholars in this department who act on the golden 
rule : * sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas.' With his usual kindness he sent 
me the * separat-abdruck ' of his paper read before the Royal Gesellschaft der 
Wissenschaften of Saxony, July 29th as above. 

* In the Academy's Irish MSS. series, i pt. i. 

5 On January i8th of this year, at which time my text and version of XXII 
were in printer's hands, I was offered the loan of this edition ; I declined it 
however, and never saw it until October ist (when I applied for it at the 
British Museum), nor have I altered a tittle of my own in consequence. The 
same applies to XXVIII, which I first saw on December ist, long after mine 
was printed* 


Preface. xxvii 

have had his last years embittered, if not his end hastened, by 
outrageous onslaughts of incompetent critics. I knew Joseph 
O'Longan well. 

Higher up I spoke of tossing straws ; but to me, the tosser, 
this has been the tossing of a caber as large as they make them. 
The body of the work, indices included, has been printed between 
April 4th, 1 891, and November ilth, 1892; it was started with 
copy just sufficient to furnish 16 pp. each of text and translation. 
During that period therefore the entire text was copied for press : 
much of it and all the translation being written twice, a rough 
version first, then the revised, which I confess might with the 
advantage of time have been made much better than it is. Any 
that have experienced what it is, with difficult work and for a 
long spell to keep just ahead of an energetic printer, will under- 
stand me. At this rate of speed the Extracts were not only 
written and translated, but hunted up and discovered as welL 
Index C had to be omitted: it was made, and besides 'matters' 
contained many words and phrases which it seemed desirable 
to notice, and corrections not a few ; but there was not room 
for it. 

From first to last I have worked single-handed : in no respect 
have I received textual help whatsoever ; and if so it be that 'tis 
more blessed to give than to receive, then native Irish scholars 
both past and present must be rated as blest indeed. Of the 
several volumes of Irish stories in English dress, without Irish, 
which one so often sees quoted, I have never even beheld one. 

Serious obligations of another kind however I am under, and 
it is with much gratitude that I acknowledge them : — 

The late Duke of Devonshire, with accustomed liberality, con- 
sented that for my purpose the Book of Lismore should tempo- 
rarily be deposited in the British Museum, whither Lady Louisa 
Egerton was good enough herself to convey it, Edward J. L. 
Scott, Keeper of the MSS., having first kindly consented to take 
charge. In the same spirit this loan was continued to me by 
his Grace that now is. 

To my countrymen and friends, Norman Moore above and 
J. J. Mac Sweeney, I am much beholden: to the former for 
unlimited use, as reader and as borrower, of his excellent Irish 
library ; to the latter for the alacrity and accuracy of his answers 

xxviii Preface. 

to queries anent classification and particulars of MSS. under his 
hand as Assistant^Librarian of the Royal Irish Academy. 

Nor must I omit hearty tribute to the good-will and intelligent 
interest manifested by all concerned in the material production 
of this book: the Irish was printed as readily and as correctly as 
the English, and throughout there has not been a hitch. 

This leads me to briefly account for non-use of Irish type : the 
reason is a business one simply ; it was commercially impossible. 
The old character is the best for texts such as I have printed, 
in which aspirations abound ; scientifically, it is not suitable for 
the oldest texts: for them italics are essential, and in Irish 
type^ you have them not 

One regret I surely have, and it is a keen one : that Sidney 
Williams, head and founder of the house from which Silva 
Gadelica goes forth, is no longer here to see the completion of 
a venture so readily and kindly undertaken at my instance. 

Let me finish by intimating, since I am often tantalised by 
hj /ing a kinsman's good work attributed to myself, that my 
trade mark (without which no goods are genuine) is either as on 
the title-page, or thus in full, 


^ Many inconsequent utterances there have been about the difficulties of 
its use, and the impossibility of attaining to accuracy ; but what about setting 
up and correcting Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and mathematical work? I 
take it on myself to say that, were the demand by a miracle to become such 
as would warrant the purchase of an Irish fount, not a murmur would be 
heard in the office of Messrs. Green and Son. 





I. Life of S. Kieran 

IL Life of S. Molasius 

in. Life of S. Magnenn 

IV. Life of S. Cellach 

V. Story 0Í Aedh áacldmA 

VI. Death of king Dermot 

VII. Birth of king Aedh Slaine 

VIII. The Wooing of Becfola 

IX. Disappearance of Caenchomrac ... 
• X. Panegyric of king Cormac 
XL Enumeration of Finn's People ... 
XII. The Colloquy 

XIII. Death of Eochaid mac Mairidh ... 

XI V. Death of king Fergus, etc 
XV. Birth of king Cormac 

XVI. Fiachna's síiiA 

XVII. Pursuit of the Gtl/a decair 

XVIII. O'DonneiVs Kern 

XIX. The Carle in the Drab Coat 
XX. The Leeching of Cian's Leg 
XXI. The Enchanted Cave of Keshcorran 
X^ 1 1. Battle of Magh mucramha 

XXIII. Battle of Crinna 

XXIV. Story of king Eochaid's sons 
XXV. Death of king Crimthann, etc. ... 

XXVI. The Little Brawl at Almhain 
XXVII. Teigue mac Cein's Adventure 

XXV HL The Boromean Tribute 

XXIX. Fragmentary Annals 
XXX. The Greek Emperor's Daughter ... 
XXXI. Abacuc the Perjurer 



... i8 

... 35 
... 50 

... 70 

... 76 

• • • 00 

... 91 \/^ 

... 94 
... 96 

... 99!^ 
... lOI 

... 265 

... 269 v^ 

... 286 

... 290 

... 292 

... 311 

... 324 

... 332 

... 343 ' ' 
... ZMV c 

... 359 ^c 
... 368VO 

... m^'^^ 

... 378 V 

••• 385 

... 401 v 
... 424 y 
... 449 

— 453 c;< 

^L -i 


Table of Contents. 

Extracts, Irish text of 

Extracts, Translation of 

Notes and Corrections 

,, to Extracts (text) 

„ to Extracts (translation) 

Index A, of Names 

Index B, of Places 


-. 455 
... 501 

... 549 
... 569 

... 571 
... 577 
... 595 


(i) On Vellum. 

BB (B. of Ballymote), XV., XXIV., XXV. 

LB (the Leabhar breac\ IV. 

LL (* Liber Lageniensis': B. of Leinster), XXII., XXVIIL, XXX,, XXXL 

LU (B. of the Dun), VIL, XIIL 

Lis. (B. of Lismore), V., IX., XII., XVI., XXIIL, XXVIL 

Add. 18,205, II. 

Eg. 91, IIL 

Eg. 92, Notes, p. 575. 

Eg. 178 1, VIIL, XX, 

Eg. 1782, VI., X., XL, XIV., XXIX, 

K., Kilbride no. 3, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, quoted in Extracts. 

K.*, „ no. 16, „ „ „ 


(ii) On Paper. 

Eg. 112, I. 

Eg. 154, XIX. 

Add. 18,747, XVI I L, XXL, XXVI. 

Add. 34,119, XVI L 

Comparative Table of Pagination. 


I is 































53 " 

54 » 























































: 7 











II : 












19: 4 

20: 32 

21 :2I 

22: 5 

23: 3 
23 X 




26: 13 






37: 8 

39 : 30 

41 : 2 

42 : II 



47: 6 
48 : 18 

51: 5 

52: 12 







55 is 

56 tt 

57 „ 

58 ,1 

59 tt 

60 „ 

61 „ 


65 t. 

66 „ 

67 „ 

68 „ 

69 tt 

70 „ 

71 ,f 

72 „ 

73 t, 

74 » 

75 tt 

76 t, 

77 It 

79 tt 

80 „ 

81 „ 

82 „ 

83 „ 

85 ,t 

86 „ 

87 „ 

88 „ 

89 tt 

90 tt 

91 ft 

92 „ 

93 tt 

94 t, 

95 „ 

96 „ 

97 ,, 

99 ,t 




103 „ 

104 „ 

105 „ 

106 „ 

107 „ 

108 „ 

57: 5 


60: 16 

61 :22 

62: 32 

65: 6 

66: 14 




71: 9 

74: 2 

76 :2I 

78: 4 
79 : 16 


83: 3 
84: 14 


87 jr 



91 : 10 












06: 10 
07 :22 
08: 6 
II :25 

13: 6 
14: 12 




109 is ] 


no „ ] 


in „ ] 


112 „ 1 


"3 tt 1 

[22: 6 

"4 ft 1 

123 : 15 

"5 t. 1 


116 „ ] 


"7 tt 1 


: 6 

118 „ ] 


: II 

"9 ,t 1 


: 9 

120 „ 1 


: 6 

121 „ ] 

[31 Í 

' 5 

122 „ ] 


: 15 

123 „ i 


; 18 

124 ,t ] 



125 „ ] 



126 „ ] 



127 t, ] 



128 „ ] 



129 tt 1 



130 „ ] 



131 ft 1 


! 2 

132 ,t 1 



133 .t 1 



134 tt ] 



135 It 1 

I47> 1 

136 „ 1 



137 ft ] 



138 „ 1 



139 t, 1 



140 „ 1 



141 „ ] 


: 5 

142 „ 3 



143 t, 1 



144 »» 1 



145 It J 


! 7 

146 „ ] 



147 ., 3 



148,1 ) 

[63 X 

149 t, ] 

[64 : 27 

150 „ ] 

[65 : 39 

151 ,t 1 

[66 a: 

152 It 1 

[68: 4 

153 tt 1 

[69 : 17 

154 „ 1 

70 : 30 

155 ,» 1 


156 „ 1 


157 ,t 1 


158 „ 1 

[75 : 28 

159 „ 1 

76 : 33 

160 „ 1 


161 „ 1 


162 „ 1 


7 1 


163 is 

164 „ 

165 tt 

166 „ 

167 t, 

168 „ 

169 tf 

170 „ 

171 ft 

172 ,t 

173 tt 

174 ,1 

175 ». 

176 „ 

178 ,t 

179 ,t 

180 „ 

181 „ 

183 ,t 

184 tt 

185 ,t 

186 „ 

187 ft 

188 „ 

189 ,t 

190 „ 

191 ,t 

192 „ 

193 ft 

194 tt 

195 t, 

196 „ 

197 ft 

199 It 

200 „ 

201 „ 

202 „ 

203 „ 

204 „ 

205 „ 

206 „ 

207 „ 

208 „ 

209 „ 

210 „ 

211 „ 

212 „ 

213 ft 

214 ,t 

215 It 

216 „ 








: 6 




= 33 





: 6 


• 20 




: 5 








: 5 

201 : 





= 34 


: 2 



207 . 





: 2 

211 : 


212 : 









. 2 







221 : 

= 35 





225 ; 

! 5 



227 : 






231 J 


























Comparative Table of Pagination. 


217 is 

218 „ 

219 » 

220 „ 

221 „ 

222 „ 

223 „ 

224 „ 

225 „ 

226 ,; 

227 „ 

228 „ 

229 „ 

230 „ 

231 » 

232 „ 

233 », 

234 m 

23s » 

236 „ 

237 » 


239 » 

240 „ 

241 M 

242 „ 

243 » 

244 » 

245 »» 

246 „ 

247 » 

248 „ 

249 ,1 

250 » 

251 » 

252 „ 

253 » 

254 » 

255 », 

256 „ 

257 » 

259 « 

260 „ 

261 „ 

262 „ 

263 „ 

264 „ 

265 „ 


245 -. 34 

247: 3 
248: 10 

249 : 15 

252 : 18 

253 : 26 
254 : 30 










274 : 19 

275 : 29 

276 s 

277 : 21 
278 : 38 
279 : 22 

281 : 43 

282 x 
284: 4 
284 JÍ 

287: 6 
288: 5 











Ir. Eng. 

267 is 301 : 34 

268 „ 302 : 36 

269 „ 304 : 3 

270 „ 305:11 

271 »» 306: 12 

272 t> 307 : 18 

273 ». 308 : 21 

274 f» 309 : 18 

275 »» 310:25 

276 „ 311 : 29 

277 »» 312:32 

278 „ 313:26 

279 «I 314 : 29 

280 „ 315:29 

281 „ 316 : 19 

282 „ 317:21 

283 „ 318 : 21 

284 „ 319 : 28 

285 „ 320 : 17 

286 „ 321 : 21 

287 „ 322 : 10 

288 „ 323 : 15 

289 „ 324 : 5 

290 „ 325 : 5 

291 „ 326 : 10 

292 „ 327 : 16 

293 „ 328 : 19 

294 I. 329 : 25 

295 « 330 : 26 

296 M 33«: 31 

297 ,. 332 : 28 
298.,, 334 

299 I. 335:" 

300 „ 336 : 21 

301 » 337 : 27 

302 „ 338 : 31 

303 « 339 : 34 

304 „ 340 X 

305 .* 342 

306 „ 343 

307 f , 344 : 4 

308 „ 345 : 9 

309 „346:10 

310 „ 347 : 13 

311 „ 348:27 

312 „ 350: 7 

313 » 35* : 19 

314 » 352 JP ^ 

315 » 354 : 16 

316 „ 355 : 36 

Ir. Eng. 
317 is 357 : 7 
3í8 „ 358:22 
319 » 359:29 

362: 5 

363: 3 
364 : 12 
365 :20 

























33rv 377 
336 » 378 














389 : 36 











348 ,1 390 : 29 














391 : 





397: 5 
399: 9 

400: 15 
401 : 18 
402 : 26 

403 : 17 
404 : 8 

404 : 29 

405 : 18 

365 .. 405 : 35 

366 „ 406 


Ir. Eng. 

367 is 406 : 17 

368 „ 406 : 26 

369 „ 406 : 30 

370 „ 407 X 

371 „ 409: 4 

372 „ 409 : 32 

373 „ 410 : 28 

374 „ 410 : 34 

375 „ 412 : 6 

376 „ 413 : 7 

377 .. 4I3-* 

378 „ 414« 

379 „ 416 : 10 

380 „ 417 : 19 

381 „ 418 : 28 

382 „ 419 : 27 

383 „ 420 : 3 

384 „ 420 : 6 

385 „ 420 : 34 

386 „ 421 : 24 

387 „ 422:15 

388 „ 423 : 9 

389 „ 423« 

390 „ 424:11 

391 „ 425 

392 „ 426 : 10 

393 I» 427 : 18 

394 „ 428 : 28 

395 » 429 : 36 

396 „ 431 : 6 

397 II 431^ 

398 ,1 433:" 

399 ,1 434 : I7 

400 „ 435 : 16 

401 n 436 : 29 

402 „ 437> 

403 II 439 : 8 

404 „ 440 : 17 

405 „ 441 : 16 

406 „ 441 : 21 

407 „ 442 : 10 

408 „ 443 : 13 

409 „ 444 : 17 

410 „ 445 : 18 

41 1 „ 446 : 24 

412 „ 447 : 29 

413 I» 448^ 

414 „ 450 : 9 

415 » 45' : 27 

416 „ 453 


Life of S. Kieran of Saighir. 

Beatissimus episcapus Ciaranus sanctorum HibemuB printo- 
genitus Le. bishop Kieran of Saighir was the first saint bom in 
Ireland ; and was of Leinster's eastern portion, which is called 
Ossory. In that time the Irish all were non-christians and gen- 
tiles. Laighne was his father's name and he was of the nobles of 
Ossory ; his mother's name was Liadain^ and she was of the 
southern part of Munster, being indeed [to be more precise] of 
the Corca-laighde by race. 

Before she conceived Kieran in her womb his mother had a 
dream : as it were a star that fell into her mouth ; which dream 
she related to the magicians and to the knowledgeable ones of 
the time, and they said to her: "thou wilt bear a son whose fame 
and whose virtues shall to the world's latter end be great [i.c. 
notorious}" Afterwards that holy son Kieran was born ; and 
where he was [actually] brought forth and nursed was in Corca- 
laighde, on the island which is called CUire. Verily God chose 
him in his mother's womb. 

When Ireland then had [first and vaguely] heard Christ's name 
the disposition of Christian devotion had its first origin in Kieran ; 
his parents and every other one marvelling at the extent to which 
all his deeds were virtuous. He was mild in his nature, and of 
converse sweet ; his qualities were attended with prosperity, his 
counsel was instruction, and so with all else that appertained to 
a saintly man. 

One day that he was in Cleire there it was that, he being at 
the time but a young child, he made a beginning of his miracles ; 
for in the air right over him a kite came soaring and, swooping 
down before his face, lifted a little bird that sat upon her nest. 


2 S. Kieran of Saighir. 

Compassion for the little bird took Kieran, and he deemed it an 
ill thing to see it in such plight ; thereupon the kite turned back 
and in front of Kieran deposited the bird half dead, sore hurt ; 
but Kieran bade it rise and be whole. The bird arose, and by 
God's favour went whole upon its nest again. 

A score and ten years now before ever he was baptised Kieran 
spent in Ireland in sanctity and in perfection both of body and 
of soul, the Irish being as we have said gentiles. But the Holy 
Spirit being come to dwell in His servant, in Kieran, he for that 
length [of time] lived in devotion and in perfect ways ; then he 
heard a report that the Christian piety was in Rome and, leaving 
Ireland, went thither, where he was instructed in the Catholic 
faith. For twenty years he was there : reading the Holy Scrip- 
ture, collecting his books and learning the rule of the Church ; 
so that when the Roman people saw our Kieran's wisdom and 
cunning, his devotion and his faith, he was ordained into the 
Church. Afterwards he reached Ireland again ; but upon the 
way from Italy Patrick (primate of Ireland) had met him, and 
when they (God's people) saw each other they made much rejoic- 
ing and had great gladness. Now at that time Patrick was not 
a bishop, but was made one later on. 

Celestinus it was that made a bishop of him and then sent 
him to preach to the Irish ; for albeit before Patrick there were 
saints in Ireland, yet for him God reserved her magistracy and 
primacy until he came ; nor till his advent did their kings or 
their lords believe by any other's means. 

Said Patrick to Kieran: "precede me into Ireland ; and in the 
marching of her northern with her southern part, in her central 
point, thou shalt find a well At such well (the name of which is 
uarán) build thou a monastery ; there shall thine honour abide 
for ever and thy resurrection be." Kieran answered and said : 
" impart to me the spot where the well is." Patrick said to him : 
" the Lord will be with thee : go thou but straight before thee ; 
take to thee [first] my little bell, which until thou reach the well 
that we have mentioned shall be speechless; but when thou 
attainest to it the little bell will with a clear melodious voice 
speak out : so shalt thou know the well, and at the end of nine 
years and a score I will follow thee to that place." 

They blessed and kissed each other, and Kieran went his way 

S. Kieran of Saighir. 3 

to Ireland ; but Patrick tarried in Italy. Kieran's bell was with- 
out uttering until he came to the place where was the well of 
which Patrick spoke: Uarán namely; for when Kieran was come 
into Ireland God guided him to that well, which when he had 
reached, straightway the little bell spoke with a bright clear voice: 
barcdn Ciardin 'tis called, and for a token is now in Kieran's 
parish and in his see ; throughout the territories round about 'tis 
carried to be sworn upon [in covenants] between kings, for a 
sanction that they shall keep their troth. Moreover it is borne 
about to all peoples in general to procure for the successors to 
Kieran's monastery all that of which they may stand in need. 
Where it was made was with Germanus the bishop, Patrick's 
master, who also gave it to Patrick. 

Touching that well of which we have spoken : the very spot in 
which it is is in the mearing betwixt two parts of Ireland, Mun- 
ster being the southernmost part and .... the northern ; howbeit 
in Munster actually the country is which men call Ely. In that 
place Kieran began to dwell as a hermit (for at that time it was 
all encircled with vast woods) and for a commencement went 
about to build a little cell of flimsy workmanship (there it was 
that [later] he founded a monastery and metropolis which all in 
general now call Saighir Chiarditiy When first Kieran came 
hither he sat him down under a tree's shade ; but from the other 
side of the trunk rose a wild boar of great fury which, when he 
saw Kieran, fled and then turned again as a tame servitor to him, 
he being by God rendered gentle. Which boar was the first dis- 
ciple and the first monk that Kieran had there ; and moreover 
went to the wood to pull wattles and thatch with his teeth by 
way of helping on the cell (human being there was none at that 
time with Kieran, for it was alone and away from his disciples 
that he came on that eremiteship). And oat of every airt in 
which they were of the wilderness irrational animals came to 
Kieran : a fox namely, a brock, a wolf, and a doe ; which were 
tame to him, and as monks humbled themselves to his teaching 
and did all that he enjoined them. 

But of a day that the fox (which was gross of appetite, crafty, 
and full of malice) came to Kieran's brogues he e'en stole them and, 
shunning the community, made for his own cave of old and there 
lusted to have devoured the brogues. Which thing being shewn 

B 2 


4 S. Kieran of Saigkir. 

to Kieran he sent another monk of the monks of his familia (the 
brock to wit) to fetch the fox and to bring him to the same spot 
[where all were]. To the fox's earth the brock went accordingly, 
and caught him in very act to eat the brogues themselves (their 
lugs and thongs he had consumed already). The brock was 
instant on him that he should come with him to the monastery ; 
at eventide they reached Kieran, and the brogues with them. 
Kieran said to the fox : " brother, wherefore hast thou done this 
thievery which was not becoming for a monk to perpetrate? 
seeing thou neededst not to have committed any such ; for we 
have in common water that is void of all offence, meat too we 
have [of the same]. But and if thy nature constrained thee to 
deem it for thy benefit that thou shouldst eat flesh, out of the very 
bark that is on these trees round about thee God would have 
made such for thee." Of Kieran then the fox besought remission 
of his sins and that he would lay on him a penance ; so it was 
done, nor till he had leave of Kieran did the fox eat meat ; and 
from that time forth he was righteous as were all the rest 

Afterwards his own disciples came to Kieran, with many more ; 
then he began to build a stately monastery, and henceforth 
those animals in their own condition abode still with Kieran, for 
they diverted him. Now grew the Christian faith in Ireland [in- 
somuch that] before Patrick's advent thither there were three 
most saintly bishops : as Ailbe of Imlech iubhaivy bishop Braus, 
with Declan in his land and country, in the Decies of Munster ; 
while of his own country too, of Ossory, Kieran the holy turned 
many men to the Catholic faith. 

It was after this that from Pope Celestinus the glorious Arch- 
bishop Patrick came into Ireland ; from whom all that land was 
filled, with the Christian faith and baptism. 

To Kieran came once a young woman : he made of her a 
Christian and a veritable servant to God, and near to the monas- 
tery built for her a small but honourable cell ; about her he 
assembled other saintly maidens, and of these was the most 
exquisite virgin whose name was Bruinnech : daughter of a noble 
lord of Munster. By Kieran's mother she was beloved dearly 
and zealously ; she was under Liadain's special care, and profit- 
able in all her ways. But when the chief of Hy-Fiachrach heard 
the fame of this girl's beauty that we have mentioned, with great 


S. Kieran of Saighir. 5 

bands of kerne he came and carried her away forcibly ; his name 
was Díma^ and with him in his castle she was for a long time ; 
indeed she slept by him, and he held her dear exceedingly. 
Kieran came to Ditna to require the girl of him, but Dima con- 
sented not to dismiss her ; he said further that by no means 
would he suffer her to depart from him unless that a stork's voice 
it were that on the morrow woke him (it was time of winter then 
and great snow was fallen ; but on the spot where Kieran was 
with his disciples fell no whit of the same). On the morrow's 
mom then (although the thing were against nature) on every 
housetop that was in the precinct a stork uttered ; which when 
Dima heard, speedily he sought Kieran, on his knees he fell 
before him, and let the young woman go. She was pregnant 
then, which was not good in Kieran's sight ; therefore upon her 
body he signed the Holy Cross, and her burden vanished quite 
away ; then he led her to her own cell which [now] is called Cill 

In love for the woman Dima was entangled hugely however, 
and repented him that he had dismissed her. He returned to 
carry her away again, but God wrought conformably to the will 
of three : of Kieran, of his mother, and of the woman's self ; so 
that when he came to the town Bruinnech died. Dima took it 
ill, and said to Kieran : " wherefore hast thou slain my wedded 
wife that before me never knew a man, for as a lawful spouse I 
bound her to me ? thy habitation therefore shall not be in this 
place, but I will expel thee out of it" Kieran answered : " not of 
thyself are the powers by which thou mightest do that or any 
other thing ; but God it is that hath given thee faculty, as it were 
an earthly shadow, for so long as it may please Him. Therefore 
my place I will not leave for thee but, whether it like thee or like 
thee not, will still be in it." Dima when he heard it departed with 
great anger, and against Kieran uttered threats ; but in revenge 
of his injustice distress of God fell on him, insomuch that when 
he came to his castle he found it and all as many buildings as 
surrounded it on fire. Now a favourite [little] son that he had 
was forgotten in the house and he asleep in Dimds bed ; but his 
nurse, when she perceived that for man it was not possible to 
rescue him from the flames, cried with a loud voice : " beloved 
babe, I make thee over to Kieran of Saighir, and to his safeguard 

6 S. Kieran of Saighir. 

do consign thee !" whereat the flames being fallen and the pre- 
mises cooled down, the child was found whole as though but 
asleep. When Dima saw it he came where Kieran was (and the 
bishop called Aedh with him) ; from Kieran he accepted a sore 
penance and dedicated to him his two sons : Donough (the son 
that the Saint had himself saved from the fire) and another one, 
with their seed and posterity after them, [with] both monastery 
and revenue, and with burial place. Then to his own place Dima 
returned again, with joy and with Kieran's benediction. As for 
this latter it grieved him that his charge was so quickly gone from 
the world, and he knew that thenceforth Dima would no more do 
him violence; where the young woman's body was thither he went 
therefore, and in her behalf made prayers to God so that she rose 
from death and for a long time after that lived on. 

Of another day the steward that Kieran had in ordei^ to the 
monastery's work [of construction] came to him saying: "we lack 
swine." Kieran made answer: "even as God giveth us every 
other thing so too will He furnish swine." Sure enough on the 
morrow there came to the workmen an exceeding great sow and 
along with her of little pigs a dozen, from which in the sequel 
proceeded many porkers. 

Of Kieran upon yet another day the self-same man sought 
sheep. Kieran said : " the One that gave us swine will give us 
sheep ;" and the steward being gone out saw on the green a 
score and eight white sheep that ate grass. Then he took them 
away, and of them came many sheep. 

A certain man of power that was in that country : — and to 
Kieran he brought his dead son to be made alive again {Laeghaire 
was the boy's name). Kieran having prayed to his Lord, the lad 
rose up from death and lived long after ; in gratitude for which 
that man bestowed on Kieran and on his representative for ever 
the land that is called Rdth-ferdin. 

It was after this that Patrick the Preacher came into Ireland, 
and to the king of Munster : to Angus son of Nadfraechy who 
believed in God and in Patrick ; and Patrick baptised him. 

In that time came one of the seed of Duach^ of the country of 
Ossory, and of set purpose killed Patrick's horse ; by the king's 
people he was seized and without delay set in fetters, that he 
might be put to death. Howbeit in his behalf his friends besought 

5". Kieran of Saighir. 7 

Kieran, who came to the king and in h^eu of the' other gave him 
wealth of gold and of silver, so procuring [the prisoner] to be 
enlarged free to his own country. But Kieran being gone the 
treasure went to nothing, whereby anger took the king and he 
summoned Kieran. He enquired of him why for the culprit 
that he held he had given him empty riches (mock substance 
that is to say) ; Kieran answered and said : " all riches whatsoever, 
'tis but of nought they come and into nought must go." Again 
anger took the king, and he threatened Kieran ; but from God 
vengeance came on the king, for on the instant his sight was 
taken from him and in the presence of all that were present he 
fell to the earth. Then came Carthach (that was pupil to Kieran 
and related to the king) and besought Kieran for him ; [in the 
end] by prayer of Carthach and of many more it came to pass 
that for the king Kieran relighted his eyes and he rose up whole 
(now to many it had seemed as though the king were dead, and 
it were his resurrection that Kieran had effected thus), and being 
risen conferred many alms on Kieran, and to God gave thanks. 

Some good harpers that Angus the king had at that time : — 
they were melodious as they sang poems and played their 
harps. Of a day that they walked through Muskerry in the 
province of Munster, there they were slain by some that were 
enemies to them ; their bodies were hidden in a loch adjoining 
to the open ground in which they were killed, and their harps 
were slung in a tree on the loch's shore. Now this [i.e. the 
harpers' absence] misliked Angus, and he took it ill that he knew 
not what was befallen them ; but he was aware that Kieran was 
full of the Holy Spirit's virtue, and he came to him in order to 
learn that which had happened to the harpers : for (seeing that 
he had embraced the faith of Christ) he would not seek it of his 
magician. What Kieran said to him was : " thine harpers are slain 
privily, and their bodies hidden in a loch hard by the spot where 
they were killed ; their harps moreover hang in a tree on the 
loch's shore." The king besought Kieran that he would go with 
him to the loch in order that he might find the bodies to have 
them raised ; to the loch they went, and for three days Kieran 
fasted in order that it should be possible to raise the bodies : 
which three days' fast being accomplished the loch's water ebbed 
to an extent such that they were no longer hidden at all. They 

8 S. Kieran of Saighir. 

were lifted and brought into the presence of Kieran, who made 
prayer to God so that before all men the dead rose as though 
they had but slept : their number was eight, and the length of 
time that they had been in the loch an entire month. Out of the 
tree they (as Kieran instructed them) took to them their harps, 
and in presence of the king, of Kieran, and of all the rest in 
general, played delicious melody : in which music was delight- 
fulness such that great number of the multitude fell asleep to it ; 
and glory was given to God and to Kieran (as for the loch in 
which they had been drowned, from that time forth water gathers 
not there ; only that for a commemoration of that miracle it still 
is called loch na gcruitiredh^ i.e. 'Loch of the Harpers*). Then 
Kieran, after the king's and the harpers' benediction had, returned 
to his own metropolis. 

On yet another day as the king's (Angus's) steward walked 
through the land that is called Mtiscraighe tire there came in his 
way a herd of swine, and he bade his people kill a hog of them ; 
they killed and took it into the nearest wood to eat it. [Which 
while they did] certain that were their enemies happening on 
them slew the steward and a score of his people on the bank 
of the river that is called Brosnach. When Kieran was certified 
of this, by his pupil Carthach (that was brother to Angus the 
king, or it may be his grandson) and by others he was entreated 
that they might go fetch the bodies of that company, so that 
wild beasts should not devour them. They having reached the 
bodies then, Kieran saw that such number as he had with him 
sufficed not to carry them to the church ; with a loud voice 
therefore he said : " in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ rise 
wretched people! come with me!" they rose straightway (the 
hog also with them), and a certain holy man that had Eochaid to 
his name, and was of that same country, returned to his house ; 
but they that were raised up [and had not previously been holy 
men] were from that time pious monks with Kieran. 

Yet another day Kieran walked, and in his way there was by 
chance a brake on which was great abundance of blackberries ; 
and from his seer's quality he comprehended that [for some pur- 
pose] these would be needed yet. He provided them with a 
covering therefore, that the winter's cold should not touch them ; 
and it was his intent that, though to a year's end they were there, 

5. Kieran of Saighir. 9 

they should be none the worse, if not indeed all the better. It 
was after this that by a certain chief of his people {Concraidh 
king of Ossory : he was the chief in question) a feast was prepared 
for the king, for Angus ; to consume which feast the king came, 
and his queen, and with them a great multitude, the season being 
then just after Easter. At this banquet the queen fell in love 
with Concraidh and (for he was comely of form exceedingly) 
besought him to respond to her; but Concraidh refused this 
thing. In order that after the king she might remain with Con- 
craidh in the town the queen resorted now to a feigned sickness, 
and said that if she might have blackberries to eat she would 
be whole (for she never thought that at that season it were 
feasible to get blackberries). On account of the king, Concraidh 
for his part feared to have her in the town ; he went therefore to 
where his own peculiar patron Kieran was, to whom he shewed 
each particular that we have mentioned (now every spot in Ossory 
belongs to Kieran's ecclesiastical jurisdiction). Kieran when he 
had heard the matter said : ''blackberries she shall have," and so 
went to the brake upon which in the foregoing autumn he had 
left blackberries under cover ; of which he brought back a vessel 
full and by Concraidh sent them to the queen. She ate them 
and was whole, for on the spot she cared no whit more for him ; 
it was the taste of honey moreover that the queen and every one 
that ate them found in those blackberries. She perceived then 
that it was a miracle had been performed on her by Kieran, 
wherefore she came and humbled herself to him and craved for- 
giveness ; Kieran gave her remission and his blessing too, but 
said : " from the death that is pronounced for thee I may not save 
thee : for in the one day thyself and Angus must find death in 
battle; but God will have mercy on you" (this was Eithne Uathach 
daughter of Enna CinnselacKs son Crimthann ; Patrick foretold 
so much for them, and Kieran too on this occasion, and it was 
true : for by Muirchertach mac Erca and Illann son of Dúnlang 
king of Leinster, and by Conn's Half, Angus and that queen fell 
in the battle of Cill-osnadh on Moy-Fea of Offaley {sic) ; the day 
on which that battle was delivered being the eighth of the Ides of 
October, when the Lord's Age was thirteen years and fourscore 
and four hundred years. Patrick's demise in the same year). 
Yet another day Patrick and Angus son of Nadfraech with a 

JO 5. Kieran of Saighir. 

great multitude caitie to Saighir (where Kieran was), and eight- 
oxen were slaughtered for them besides other meat [provided]. 
Said some one or other to Kieran : " for yon so great multitude of 
people where is the profit in what meat is here?" Kieran 
answered : " He that in the wilderness did with a little bread and 
fish satisfy many thousands may well effect that to yonder num- 
bers this small portion of meat shall be satiety." He blessed his 
own well, and turned it to wine ; and of God's grace and Kieran's 
it came that, so long as ever all such throngs as were present 
there desired it, they had their sufficiency of meat and of wine. 

Yet another time came the king of Tara with a strong force 
to take the men of Munster's pledges. Olioll king of Cashel 
would not submit to him, but made a great gathering to oppose 
him ; and close to Kieran's metropolis they met Kieran would 
fain have made peace between them ; they would not have it 
[i.e. his mediation] of him, and from God he procured that which 
of proud human folk he had not gained : for in the face of 
Munster as they marched to the battle a mighty wood sprang 
up, while to bar Conn's Half the BrosnacKs stream swelled over 
her banks so that not one dared take it When they saw that 
miracle fear seized them : the king, seeing the current which 
formerly was passable for his hosts rise against them now, turned 
away from that stream and departed to his own country ; and 
that night Munster lay in the vicinity of Kieran's metropolis. 
He sent to the king a beef and a pig ready cooked ; with which 
meat the whole army was replete, and they left fragments. By 
these various miracles God's name and Kieran's were magnified. 

Of another time great bands of marauders came out of other 
countries into the marches of Munster, to do pillage and to kill 
people; but a good man of Munster whose name was Lonan 
overtook them, and the outlaws turned to flight When they 
saw that they might not by any means escape, they prayed 
Kieran to save them out of that extremity ; and when Lonan 
and his people would have taken and killed them, a thunderbolt 
fell betwixt them and the robbers. Great fear took Lonan and 
his men^ so that beyond that point they followed them not, but 
reverted to their own dwelling-place ; and the bandits recognised 
that they were Kieran's miracles which had succoured them. 
They repaired to him therefore and told him their story ; and 

S. Kieran of Saighir. 1 1 

the course on which they resolved was to don religious habits, 
and thenceforth to serve God and Kieran ; this was performed 
by them, and until they died they continued under Kieran's 
hand in good works and in piety. 

Yet another day came a thief (whose name was Cairbre) of 
Leinster's province, and stole an extraordinary good cow that 
Kieran's monks had ; but as he made for Slievebloom a mist 
and a darkness came down upon him so that the way was no 
longer patent to him, and he falling into a river was drowned. 
The cow turned and to Kieran and to the monks came back again. 

'Yet another day Kieran sent to his nurse, to Cuincke^ a team 
of oxen (they having no man with them) to plough for her. 
Whenever the oxen were come to her she knew that it was Kieran 
had sent them to her to plough : now it was a long way between 
Kieran ^Xíá CuinMs monastery i.e. Ros-bennachoir, for this is in 
the sea's neighbourhood, in the eastern part of Ireland. Those 
oxen ploughed of themselves and (the time of ploughing ended) 
returned to Kieran, there being no one with them. It was 
Kieran's use upon every Christmas eve (after from his own hand 
administering communion to his familia in Saighir) to resort to 
his nurse's monastery, to Ros-bennachoir^ and from his own hand 
again to give her too the communion of Christ's Body ; on which 
same night then he would return to his own convent. And the 
manner after which we understand that it was God that did this 
is [by considering] how he wrought with Abacus in bringing 
him from India (his own country) to Chaldaea and back to India 
again in but a brief space of the day. S. Cuincke's great stone 
(on which she practised to pray to and to supplicate her Lord) 
stood on the sea's shore a space from the monastery : its name 
is Carraig Chuinche now, round about which the sea's waves 
would oftentimes come up. Kieran one day mounted upon this 
stone and it floated on the sea ; then, when Kieran so willed it, 
came back to its place. Nor was this wonderful, for it is written : 
mirabilis Dens in Sanctis suis (Ps. cxxxv.) i.e. ** God is marvellous 
in his saints." 

The pupil whom we have said that Kieran had, Carthack 
namely : he and a virgin of Liadaif^s familia fell immoderately 
in love with each other and conceived a contaminated intention 
of sinning ; they appointed a place of meeting where they shoukl 

12 S. Kieran of Saighir. 

be at their ease to court, and attended the same ; but when they 
would have embraced, a thunderbolt fell between them so that 
hardly they escaped unconsumed. Great fear took them, and 
for the magnitude of their terror they uttered not a single word ; 
they returned back [from their assignation] but the virgin was 
stricken blind, and till the time of her death was so : nor was it 
an inequitable judgment that the woman who had blinded her 
mind even to [the pitch of committing] sin should have her eyes 
blinded of corporal [i.e. physical] light. Carthach for his part 
submitted to the penance imposed on him, and went on a pil- 
grimage. Whence also Kieran's sanctity is manifest ; for God 
would not that those two virgins should sin that were in the 
saint's keeping, seeing that in safeguarding of his flock he was a 
most zealous pastor. 

To Kieran came two that were brethren to each other {Odhran 
and Medhran their names were, of Múscraighe-thíre and of the 
town called Letracft) : and when these reached Saighir the one 
man (it was Medhran) longed to abide with Kieran ; but Odhran 
said : " not thus thou promisedst, my brother," and told Kieran 
not to keep back his brother from him. Kieran answered : " God 
shall judge betwixt us whose he shall be : in his hand let him 
take this taper, let him blow on it with his breath, and if the 
taper kindle let him remain with me ; if it light not, let him go 
with thee." The taper was given him in his hand, he blew on it 
with his breath, and straightway it lighted ; therefore in great 
sanctity and in good works Medhran till his death's day abode 
with Kieran. To Odhran Kieran said : " I tell thee, Odhran^ that 
though thou range the whole world, yet 'tis in thin^ own town, in 
Letrachy thou shalt die ; return therefore and in that same pass 
thy time, for 'tis from thee that it shall have its name for ever." 
Through Kieran's words Odhran returned to his own town, where 
he made an honourable monastery ; his virtues and his sanctity 
were great, and after performance of miracles in number (as is 
read in his own life) he went to Heaven. Thus then Kieran's 
words were verified, for Letrach Odhrain it is which serves that 
place for a name. 

A woman called Etill walked one day and chanced to be 
thrown down, so that her bones were broken and she died ; at 
three days* end Kieraa brought her to life again and she con- 

S. Kieran of Saighir. 1 3 

ceded to him the land on which she had the fall : léim Etille [i.e. 
'Etiirs Leap'] is its name. Moreover she gave thanks to God 
and to Kieran. 

A retainer of the king's people, Cennfaela by name : he slew 
Cronan that was a friend to Kieran ; the saint revived him (and 
at the seventh day's end it was he did it) in the name of Christ 
He then [Cronan] being in the presence of all the rest whole 
again, Kieran said : " he that killed thee {Cennfaela namely) shall 
be slain, and in the castle which is called Rath ... of Ely (?) 
his body shall be burned." 

Yet another day the king of Munster (Olioll) addressed Kieran 
with surly words, and departed from him in great wrath ; but it 
was no long time before the king was stricken dumb, so that for 
eight days he was speechless. He came to Kieran and prostrated 
himself before him ; he accused himself of his unlawful deeds 
[which he had committed] and craved forgiveness ; and Kieran, 
when he perceived that the king felt true penitence, blessed his 
tongue so that at once and with plain clear utterance he spoke, 
then, after Kieran's blessing received, went away whole to his 
house and magnified God's name and the saint's. 

One night Kieran and a pilgrim named Germanus that was 
with him entered into a stream of cold water, in which when 
they had now been for a long time Germanus said : " Kieran, I 
may no longer hold out in the water." Kieran made the sign of 
the Holy Cross upon the water, whereby he turned it to be tem- 
perate and of bathing heat ; and there they were praising God 

Kieran said : " to-morrow, Germanus, a beloved guest will come 
to us : Carthach namely, the king of Munster's son and mine 
own pupil, whom for a sin that he lusted to commit [and] had 
not God and I hindered him [would have committed] I sent on 
a pilgrimage : [I hindered him I say] for I would not that he 
should have ruined [or 'thrown away'] all his hitherto devotion 
and his labour. He having obtained remission of his sins, and 
being cleansed of his fault, returns even now ; thou therefore 
take of this fish that surrounds thee, so that it shall be ready 
against my beloved son." As Kieran had bidden him, so Ger- 
manus caught a great fish ; and on the morrow (as also Kieran 
had said) Carthach came. 

Yet another time : by a certain king named Furbaidhe Kieran 

14 S. Kieran of Saighir. 

of Clonmacnoise was taken and set in bonds : the cause being 
that of the king's treasure, which was in Kieran's custody, the 
saint (for he was full of pity) bestowed great portion on the poor 
of God. Where Kieran was [in prison] thither the king came 
one day, and through jocoseness said : " if I got four bald cows, 
red-bodied, with white heads on them, I would enlarge thee." He 
answered : " God is able for that same ; but let me out to seek 
them, and if I find them not I will myself return again to be at 
thy disposal." His bonds were loosened then and he came to 
Saighir^ where the other Kieran was, to whom he told this 
matter ; at which time both the Brendans were with Kieran, and 
to them all it was a gladdening that Kieran of Cluain was come. 
Said the other Kieran to his man of trust : " what shall these 
saints have to eat to-night?" the man of trust rejoined that, 
saving flesh alone, he had no meat Kieran said : '^ with speed 
make ready that thou hast" The flesh then being boiled, Kieran 
blessed it and in the others' presence changed it at his discretion 
to oil, to fish, to pottage, and to various meats ; while by God's 
grace it came to pass that for the meal of those saints whom we 
have mentioned all the vessels of the house were filled up with 
fine wine. There was within there a monk {mac Cangair he was) 
to whom it was distasteful to eat meat with the saints, and he 
said that he would not use the meats that were made out of the 
flesh. Kieran pronounced: "thou shalt e'en eat flesh in Lent, and 
on the day in which thou shalt eat it thine enemies shall slay 
thee ; thy head also shalt be taken from thee, and thou shalt not 
possess the kingdom of God ; and thy life thou shalt spend disas- 
trously, for thy monk's habit thou shalt lay aside." Now Kieran's 
words came true, for close to Saighir of Kieran he was killed. 

Then those four saints (two Kierans and two Brendans) made 
an alliance between themselves and between their successors after 
them. Kieran of Cluain^ after leave taken of those other saints 
and their blessings had, turned to go his way, lacking all know- 
ledge where were the kine which the king demanded of him. 
Kieran of Saighir came a piece of the way with him to convey 
him, and either gave the other farewell benediction. Said Kieran 
of Cltuiin : ** by my blessing's -efficacity be there for ever in thy 
town riches, and much treasure, and cattle ;" Kieran of Saighir 
said : " by virtue of my blessing be there in thy place for ever 

5. Kieran of Saighir. 1 5 

wealth both of wisdom and of piety." When then they were 
come to the ford that is called Ath-salachj upon the river's bank 
they got four bald and white-headed cows. Kieran of Cluain said : 
''seest thou how God hath given us the cows which the king 
required of us ?** They parted from each other then, having first 
rendered thanks and praise to God, and having in token of peace 
and of grace given and received blessing and osculations ; Kieran 
the elder returned back to Saighir^ and the other Kieran went to 
Cluain, He sent the kine to the king, who marvelled how it 
could be that cows such as they had been found ; but Kieran 
being now discharged of his promise they vanished away to 
nothing, so that from that time to this no account whatsoever 
of them has been had. Whereupon the kingf was aware that that 
which he had done to Kieran was unrighteous. 

In the monastery of Clonmacnoise was a child whose name 
was Crithid\ that in good works was no more than a fool; but in 
bad works of maliciousness, right noxious. He came to Saighir 
and for a while was there with Kieran the elder, who had enjoined 
that till a year's end a certain holy fire which at the previous 
E^tertide he had consecrated must not be quenched within the 
monastery, but be nourished and safeguarded there ; yet at the 
Devil's instigation the child of whom we spoke came, and of set 
purpose quenched the fire. Kieran said : " know ye that the 
accursed child whom men call Crithid of Cluain hath quenched 
the sacred fire that we had? vengeance shall come on him for 
this, and he will die to-morrow." Which also was verified : for 
on the morrow the wolves killed him on the lands abroad, and 
there he was left [uneaten]. Kieran said : '^ up to Easter shall be 
no fire in the church unless God put it there." But Kieran of 
Cluain heard that the child was perished so, and speedily he 
came to Saighir where he was received with much honour. The 
monastery wanted all fire however ; for it was from the aforesaid 
holy flame that every night they kindled others there, and Kieran 
had pronounced that (unless God sent such from Heaven) there 
should not until Eastertime be fire in it But to the town on 
that day came [as we have said] guests : Kieran of Cluain and his 
company, who were much oppressed with cold, for it was snowy 
weather then. Kieran the elder went out and with vehement 
prayer stretched forth his hand to Gpd ; into bis breast fell then 

1 6 S. Kieran o/ Saighir, 

a fiery mass, round about which he wrapped his mantle's skirt 
and took it into the house where the guests were. Who being 
now warmed, supper was made ready for them ; but when they 
were set to eat it Kieran of Cluain declared that till he should 
have restitution of the child he would not eat meat Kieran the 
elder said : " we know that such is thy journey's purpose, and God 
will grant us that he come back alive to us ; eat thy meat then, 
for that child is on his way to us." Even as Kieran said the 
word the child came, whom when they saw they rendered thanks 
to God and to his sanctity. They ate their meal ; and Kieran of 
Cluain^ having received Kieran the elder's blessing, departed 
taking his child with him. 

Yet another day: one of Kieran's own brethren came and 
unguardedly, not of purpose, quenched the fire again ; he did 
penance and had absolution. That same day Ruadhan of Lotkra 
came to the town on a visit to Kieran, and in the monastery was 
no fire for the period of the guests' stay. Kieran went therefore 
to a great stone that was near him and blessed it ; forthwith the 
stone took fire, and in that condition he carried it to the house in 
which the guests were. Which when Ruadhan with his disciples 
saw, to God and to Kieran they gave glory and laudation. 

The brother whom we mentioned, Bdithin : he spilt a vessel of 
milk that he had carrying it ; but Kieran made the sign of the 
cross on the utensil and it was full again. Fear before their 
master, before Kieran, fell on the brother that had spilt the milk 
and on some others of the brethren ; after which many were 
confirmed in the faith and in good works. 

Kieran prayed to his Lord one day : an angel came and shewed 
him that the season of his death was [comprised] within but a 
short space. In the angel's presence he craved of God petitions 
three, and these he had of the angel even as he desired them, for 
they had been promised to him by God : the first petition of 
them was that, whosoever should be buried in his metropolis, in 
his burial-ground, the gates of Hell should not be shut on him 
after the Judgment-day; the second petition was that, whosoever 
should shew honour to his day, lack of the world's wealth should 
not afflict him, and that on the yonderside he should have Heaven ; 
the third petition was that the tribe of which he was and to which 
he was patron, they of Ossory namely, never should by any extern 

S. Kieran of Saighir. 1 7 

tribe such as might come unlawfully to take their countrj'' be 
worsted in battle, neither themselves go to make unjust conquest 
in any other land. 

This holy one of whom we have spoken, Kieran of Saighir : 
in every place he was full of humility, and to his death's date 
loved to hear, to read, and to learn [i.e. study] the Scripture. It 
is related too that he (with the saints of Ireland his contempo- 
raries) was with Finnian of Clonirard, and entered that school at 
an advanced age, where he attained to great theology ; so that 
on him (as on the others) was bestowed the designation of 
* Finnian*s pupil/ He being now grown ancient, being of great 
wisdom also, instructed perfectly (as we have said), and an 
honourable bishop, nevertheless (for love of humility and of 
knowledge) was contented to learn still, while from him [at the 
same time] others derived instruction. Moreover, from his * young 
age' [i.e. from childhood] Kieran never drank aught by which he 
might be drunken, never wrapped himself in downy or in soft 
raiment, never partook of a banquet, never slept his fill, nor for 
love of carousing and of good company rushed off anywhithen 
And his own tribe, the tribe of Ossory (forby many other men) 
he converted to the faith. Many times he was visited by angels ; 
he ordained great number of bishops, of priests, and of other 
orders of the Church. The angel instructed him also of a vene- 
rable well by which much various disease and infirmity is healed: 
its name is tobarCidrain [i.e. *Tubberkieran* or * Kieran's Well'], 

Thirty years Kieran passed in zealous service to God before 
his baptism. Then when by age and by sickness he was now 
become infirm, the days of his death drew near to him ; and out 
of every quarter where they were he summoned to him his people 
and his parishioners, and blessed them. He enjoined on them to 
keep God's commandments, and on the third of the nones of 
March he, being surrounded by choirs of saints, with Christ's 
peace received the sacraments of the Church. He dismissed his 
spirit and, by God's leave, in the one night with him a score and 
ten bishops that he had himself ordained went likewise to the 
Kingdom of God. 

Here is an end of the Life of Kieran : written by Maurice 
O'Conor, ship-carpenter, in Cork. 


S. Mo/asius of Devenish. 

Life of S. Molasitis of Devenish. 

It was a certain noble, admirable, and laudable sage of free- 
men's race — a pre-eminent member of Heber the Fair's royal 
line and of the ancient Eoganacht of Cashel — that once upon a 
time spent his flesh in honour of the one God Almighty, serving 
Him : 

The great and miraculous Molasius son of 

Nadfraech son of 

Barr son of 

Corbrann son of 



Aedh the Fair 



Angus si. A.D. 489 


Core of Cashel il. 438 


Olioll Rubriculus 

Fiacha Broad-crown 

Eogan Mór si. 195 

OiloU Oluim d. 234 

Moghnuadhat fl. 123 




Duach Donn si. A.M. 5041 

Cairbre Broad-eye 

Lughaid of Luaighne 

si. 5016 
Innatmar si. 4990 
Nia-segaman si. 4887 
Adamar Smooth-hair 

si. 4787 
Ferchorb si. 4737 
Moghcorb si. 4701 
Cobthach the Slight 
Rechtadh Red-wrist 

sL 4566 

Lughaid of Laighde 

si. 4469 
Eochaid si. 4422 
Olioll the Fair si. 4415 
Art of Emly si. 4394 
Lughaid Redhand 

si. 4365 
Eochaid Uairches 

si. 4356 

Enna the Red d. 4319 
Duach the Fair si. 4306 
Senna Inarrach si. 4290 
Bresrfgh si. 4247 
Art of Emly si. 4192 
Felim si. 4177 
Rothechtadh d.4176 
Ruann of the royal 

Failbhe . . . (.?) 
Cas Cétaichne 
FaiUdergdóid si. 3882 
Muinemon si. 3872 
Cas Clothach 
• • • • 
Arus ij) 

Nuada Deglaech (?) 
Eochaid Bright-edge 

si. 3727 
Conmael sL 3579 

Heber the Fair si. 3501 

Milesius of Spain 









Heber- Scot [a quo *the 

Gaedhel Glas [a quo * the 


Fenius Farsa 

Enos son of 
Seth son of 
Adam son of 
The Living God 

Monoa daughter of Midhlogh of the Corcaraiglie was this 

S. Molasius of Devenish. 1 9 

Molasius* mother ; and as for her, by computation of her genea- 
logy her 'incarnation' [i.e. birth] was a noble one: for it was 
the illustrious Feidhlim Rechtmar^ son of Tuathal Techtmar and 
monarch of Ireland, that very precisely was her grandfather and 
(as all allowed) head of her tribe. Which two limpid pedigrees 
(extant still for constant recitation) set plainly forth how the 
arch-saint's ingredients were ordered nobly in Ireland, [emanat- 
ing as they did] from her two prime seats of precedence : from 
Cashel namely and from fair Tara, as the poet declaring him 

said : — 

Noble is Molasius the miraculous . . . 

Thirty years before whose birth moreover, Patrick the excel- 
lent, of the melodious paternosters, when he the Primate came to 
Benn-osna once, foretold that ruddy lightning-flame of Europe's 
westernmost part: Molasius son of Nadfraech ; so that in verifi- 
cation of the Tailchentis prophecy the poet said : — 

Hail to the g^est of virtues many . . . 

Now in the night Molasius' mother saw a dream : that she got 
seven fragrant apples, and the last apple of them that she took 
into her hand her grasp could not contain it for its size ; gold (as 
it seemed to her) was not lovelier than the apple. This dream 
she told to her husband, and the man said : '' truly I understand 
it : thou shalt bear an offspring, excellent and famous, with which 
the mouths of all Ireland shall be filled, and it shall distance its 

At all events the time came when Molasius' mother must bring 
forth, and her pains took her. A magician said to her : " if thou 
delay thy birth so that thou bear it not till the sun rise to-morrow, 
then shall that good birth which thou shalt have, woman, be 
illustrious and for a great dignity, and miraculous, righteous, very 
noble, and be an offspring profitable for the salvation of the 
world's most western portion ;" and he said : — 

If to-morrow thou shalt bear a son . . . 

The Very God retained the birth in Monocis womb, so that, 
just when the sun was risen on the morrow, she brought forth 
.... upon a certain flagstone ; and it was taken to bishop Eochoy 
baptized and blessed : who also conferred first orders on him 
afterwards, as one said : — 

Bishop Eocho the angelic . . . 
C 2 

20 S. Molasius of Devenish. 

And indeed it was clear that the Holy Spirit's favour accom- 
panied Molasius, for at the end of a month after his birth he 
spoke and praised the Lord ; fulfilling [the words of] the Psalmist, 
as one said : — 

Even as the psalm says : ex ore infantium . . . 

He swallowed not . . . meat, nor meat that was impure, nor any 
kind of theft ; and when they would feed him against his grain he 
used straightway to throw it up. One thing in especial : every 
degree of increment that took place in Molasius' flesh occurred 
in his humility also and in his excellence, in his • . . and in his 
purity, even as Christ hath said : — 

He that shall exalt himself . . . 

Thus then Molasius entered upon his studies : so that he 
became wise, knowledgeable in a high degree, and was head- 
monk in miracles ; nor had aught that was his own peculiar, but, 
whatsoever he got, that he used to bestow on God's poor and 
needy for love of his Maker and Creator, and for an exemplifying 
of the Psalmist when he says : dispersit dedit pauperibus : — 

For God's sake he gave to the poor . . . 

Another one of Molasius' wonders : once when a monk of his 
monks had mixed meal and water and kneaded a cake, but had 
not fire and made his plaint to Molasius therefore, the saint said 
to the monk : "bring me hither two coals ;" whereupon the coals 
were brought to him, and he applied his breath to them so that 
they kindled like torches. Wonderful that was in the monks' 
sight and, wonderful though it were, rejoiced them [i.e. they had 
joy without fear]. " Dear sons," Molasius said, " the thing which 
is hard to men is easy to God :" as one said : — 

If loyally and dutifully thou believe . . . 

Now Molasius the miraculous with his monks was for the forty 

days of Lent without consuming bite or sup, or any meat in the 

world but fruits of trees and earth's plants and herbs ; while yet 

another Lent he with his monks was for forty days without any 

kind of meat whatsoever, saving the cellarer's hand full of barley 

grain to each monk from the one midday to the other : as one 

said : — 

One Lent Molasius and his monks were . . . 

It was once when two lepers on a quest for entertainment came 
to Molasius at a season when he had no meat to shew : he sum- 


5". Molasius of Devenish. 2 1 

moned his cellarer and said to him : " give to yon men their suf- 
ficiency of meat and drink." The cellarer answered : " I have no 
food little or much." "Go into the kitchen," said Molasius to 
the cellarer, "and in it thou shalt find two cakes with their accom- 
paniment of butter, and two chunks of fish, and two vessels full of 
milk." The cellarer proceeded and found as the saint had said, 
whereupon he gave the poor their fill : as one said : — 

Once on a tíme Molasius whose delight was not in folly . . . 

Another time : and all Ireland lay under grief of death and 
dissolution, they being tormented for that the [plague called] 
buidke chounail had now made great slaughter of Ireland's best 
men (in which [lit * where*] perished Dermot and BldtAmac joint 
kings of Ireland, and S. Féichbt of Fore, S. Ailerán the Wise, and 
of Ireland's nobles a great portion) to such pitch that they which 
died there transcended all count and comparison, all reason and 
recollection. According to some it was half and one over of the 
men of Ireland ; others again asserting that it was two-thirds of 
them that expired. The men of Erin took counsel therefore how 
that sickness might be turned from them ; and what they all 
proposed was to make a day's and a night's fast to God and to 
Molasius for their succour and relief: as the poet said : — 

A three days' fast of zealous abstinence . . . 

Howbeit the men of Erin fast to Molasius, and Molasius fasts 
to his God, so that they had succour and relief from that sick- 
ness ; and then it was that to Molasius they assigned [a rate of] 
one screpall out of every house, if only there were in it three of a 
family ; from every chief of a cantred a * cow of three hands ;* a 
riding horse from every provincial king, and from the king of 
Ireland a horse with his caparison of battle ; the whole to be 
honourably discharged to Molasius and to his community after 
him for ever at Lammastide ; as the poet said : — 

A lamentable plague of hideous sickness . . . 

After which it was that Declan's sons came to seek Molasius, 
and he bade them write the Evangile for him. They wrote all 
the gospels within the space of two days and one night ; in which 
night light failed them not, but was as [it is during] every day. 
By this wonder Molasius' miracle-power was lauded much. 

He, having about him a hood of badger's skins (whence the 
brocainech is named : a good one of Molasius' relics) and in his 

22 S. Molasius of Devenish. 

hands a small strip of [the same] leather, went to Hell for the 
purpose of calling up a certain jester, Manann the leper to wit ; 
whereby for Molasius God brought the same out of Hell along 
with fifty that were his namesakes : as the poet said : — 

Thrice fifty Mananns did Molasius bring . . • 

Of another day Molasius was stark naked bathing himself in 
water (nor though there were ice on it would that hinder him ; 
and when he was thus none durst look on him, for there was but 
his skin cleaving to his bones : seeing that of meat he used for a 
whole week but barely so much as to another one would have 
been a single dinner) ; a monk of his monks came to look for 
him, and that was not pleasing to Molasius, who said to him : 
" do not the like again, but for the deed which thou hast done 
do penance." " I will, according to thy pleasure," the monk said. 
" Come into this water then," said Molasius. The monk replied : 
"truly I will ;" but not long he was in it when he said to Mola- 
sius : " for the greatness of its virulence and of its cold I may not 
endure the water." "If that be what thou say est, come into this 
other water ;" whereupon the monk entered that water. Short a 
time as he was in it he found its excessive heat to be such that 
he said : " help me, lord, for I may not support these griefs ; and 
patent to me it is that God's grace bears thee company, neither 
will we do aught that thou mayest prohibit." Molasius blessed 
the water then so that it was temperate : between cold and heat 
Certain it is indeed that for Molasius the elements were tem- 
perate according to his will, and conformably to his intention 
were obedient : as the poet said : — 

God's elements and O the elements of God . . . 

One night that Molasius with his monks ate their supper they 
saw the house roof afire, with its flames bursting from it, and the 
monks thought to abandon the house for fear of their being 
burnt " By no means," quoth Molasius, " but bow ye your heads, 
and bend your knees and be prepared for death, and leave the 
matter betwixt me and the fire ; neither let one of you look up." 
The monks did so ; nor was it long they had been there when 
the roof-tree of the house fell on the ground in front of them, and 
the fire did them no harm but that "Understand, brethren 
beloved," said Molasius, " that your endurance is manifest to God, 

S. Molasius of Devenish. 23 

and that ye are chosen sons of God. Rise now, for God hath 
saved us from the fire :" as one said : — 

When Molasius with his monks was . . . 

Another time when Molasius was in the house of a good king 
of the kings of Ireland, it chanced that fire caught in the house 
so that it was not possible to save it. Molasius blessed the house 
and extended his arms for the croisfigkill, and the fire burned but 
three wattles in the house (the name of which place to-day is 
druim clethchoir) and the king offered it to God and to Molasius 
for ever, after himself. 

Molasius was one day and a synod of clergy came in his way : 
these had a good 'book of ways* [i.e. itinerary] out of which he 
would fain have copied somewhat ; but he had not a pen, neither 
had the company. Molasius however spied a flock of birds that 
hovered over him, and he stretched forth his hand to them ; 
whereby from them to him there fell a quill, so that then he 
wrote the book : as one said : — 

The bird bestowed his quill . . . 

Once when Molasius, and certain of his clerics with him, jour- 
neyed in the land of Carbery, he saw a woman milking, of whom 
he craved a drink for his attendant, and the woman said : " not to 
the lad only will I give the milk, but to you all." " That is better 
still," said Molasius. " Well then, my lord," the woman went on, 
" hitherto I am a barren woman ; but do thou relieve me, and 
make intercession for me that it fall to my share to have issue." 
" If so," Molasius said, " call to us thy husband ; let him take my 
cup to the well and bring back to us its fill of water in it" Then 
the water was given into Molasius' hand, he blessed and con- 
secrated it, and passed it to the woman to drink : " woman," he 
said, "have it for a thing assured that henceforth thou shalt be 
pregnant, and shalt bear a son : good, miraculous, saintly, wonder- 
working, righteous ; to him it is that God the Creator and all 
Ireland's saints will give honour very great, and perfect privilege : 
whose first name shall be mac na cretruy from the sanctifying and 
consecration which I imparted to the water ; but for us it is * the 
very noble bishop Finnacha' that shall be his permanent desig- 
nation ; him I hail before his advent and make welcome :" and 
he pronounced these words : — 

A welcome I utter for [the subject of] a truthful vision . . . 

24 S. Molasius of Devenish. 

Then Molasius blessed bishop Finnacha in his mother's womb, 
and what he said was : " Ireland's saints and the Creator of all 
creatures shall bestow on him exceeding great honour and privi- 
lege, and the right of sanctuary, and he himself shall be the fifth 
high saint [that shall have been] in his place: protecting it, 
giving effect to every supplication that shall be addressed to him, 
avenging the violation of it, and requiting every ill thing and 
injustice that shall be done to it Shortness of life, and Hell, be 
to them that spoil it ; Heaven to his successor, but that his privi- 
leges he curtail not, neither diminish his dues :" as one said : — 

'Tis a birth of virtue that is in thy womb, woman . . . 

Howbeit Molasius became famous, and (his age being now 
advanced ; his faith and devotion, his wisdom and guidance also 
being notorious) like every other apostle besides he went to 
Finnian of Clonirard and read [i.e. studied] the Gospel there ; 
after which the apostles said to Finnian that he should come 
with each man of them [in turn] to his church to consecrate it. 
Finnian cared not to do this (for he was an old man), but said : 
" I will go with the saint, whosoe'er he be of you that my dun 
cow shall follow." Thereupon the saints break up, the dun 
cow follows Molasius and Nindidh, and Finnian with his twelve 
apostles follows these to Devenish, where for a year they were 
with Molasius : — 

Twelve saints that yonder were ordained . . • 

He that at this time was chief over that land was Red Conall 
son of Daimhín^ to whom his wizard said : " unless thou go to 
Molasius to Devenish, and unless this night thou quench his fire, 
he it is that shall be lord over this domain and over the [whole] 
loch in which it is ; and his successor after him it is that in voice, 
in power and in privilege; shall preponderate." Then for Red 
Conall his horses were harnessed, and he took his way to 
Devenish, lashing them hard until he attained to the place that 
has the appellation of omna gabtha [i.e. *the sticking oak'] for 
there [hard by an oak-tree] the horses' feet were held fast so that 
they could not stir a step [lit *so that they had not a step']; but 
to the king and to his people this was a wonderment, a marvel, 
and moreover most displeasing to them. Said a young man of 
his people to the king : " let turn the horses' heads eastwards and. 

S. Molasitis of Devenish. 25 

if straightway they start, then is Molasius a man of God." The 
horses' heads were turned to the east and they went at once. 

As for Red Conall : the horses he let be, and made his way on 
foot ; the wicker boat that he had he launched upon linn an tairbh 
[i.e. *the bull's pool'] with, in the bottom of it, a bull all cooked 
[lit 'sodden'], but the bull leaped into the loch and the boat 
was swamped. Further : two white horses that the king had, 
with crimson manes and tails on them, they died out of hand. 
Then fear took Red Conall, and by him an embassage was sent 
to Molasius in order that he should raise the horses up from 
death. Molasius came, brought the horses to life again, and that 
pleased the king well. Molasius said : '' make we now a bargain : 
I of my Lord's part will to thyself, and to thy son after thee, 
grant this region ; and leave thou me this spot of land upon 
which I am." Quoth the king : " I thank thee not for that : mine 
own land, and my father's and my grandfather's before me!" " If 
that be what thou sayest," Molasius answered, "may neither thy 
son, nor yet man of thy seed for ever, have the dominion of this 
land." Molasius turned his back on him, and on the instant the 
king's eyes [i.e. sight] were taken from him. 

To continue the king's story : it was people he had leading 
him, to shew him the way, till he gained his house. Thereupon 
in all haste he had a great feast made, which he sent as a present 
to Molasius, and with it conveyed the land to him ; then besides 
settled on him all its dues for ever. "On my Lord's behalf," 
Molasius said, " I restore to thee thine eyes whole and, so long as 
thou livest, neither thine own fortune nor thy rule shall be 
opposed ; but certain it is that by no one of thy posterity shall 
the rule ever be assumed :" as one said : — 

A stubborn war unjust arose . . . 

It was once upon a time that the apostles came to inis cométa : 
and they were for a night without fire, so that they sent a little 
boy that they had with them to Edardhruim to fetch fire ; and 
he brought away two live coals, but on the return was drowned : 
himself and both his coals. The little boy was searched for then 
and brought up with the black coals in his hand. In virtue of 
his Lord s power Molasius summoned him back to life, and his 
soul entered into him then ; and to the black wet coals the saint 
applied his breath, so that they blazed like a torch. God s and 

26 5. Molastus of Devenish. 

Molasius' names were magnified hereby, and one uttered a 
*^y • — Ireland's apostles came . . . 

Yet another time that Molasius was in Devenish and no meat 
by him : and there came a number of [self-invited] g^uests to 
visit him (for he was the general repair of sick, and of such as 
sought entertainment, and of the extern ; he was moreover a resort 
of poor and of naked, of orphans and of such as were in distress- 
ful straits ; every one too that from none other in Ireland could 
find help, and all such for whom work was not suitable, nor 
deference forthcoming, nor kindly care, used at the last to come 
to Molasius that he should help them against cold and famine, 
against thirst and hunger). But at all events, what Molasius on 
that occasion did with his guests and poor was this : he caused 
bring to him. all that in Devenish there were of decayed and black 
old pots ; these he broke up, made into portions, and gave to all 
as though he had served out bread ; and then, whatsoever kind 
of meat any one of them fancied individually, the same was 
produced from his fragment of the pots ; while, to each one that 
so desired, it turned to raiment as well, according to their mind 
and inclination : as one said : — 

Devenish the isle of oxen . . . 

It was once upon a time that Molasius went to Moycame 
when the king, when Aedh^ had a great feast on : Molasius sent 
his lad, and his pitcher with him, to request ale and meat ; but 
he was denied and, coming back to where Molasius was, told 
him. " Why then," quoth the saint, " let the feast, both ale and 
meat, vanish into nothing." 

For the king's part, his ale was turned to brine and his meat 
to foulness. The king came and asked what had ruined the ban- 
quet ; "that is soon told," the house-steward answered ; " Molasius' 
lad came hither, and in the matter of liquor and of meat I denied 
him." " An evil deed thou hast done," the king said ; " this spot [I 
dedicate] to him [the saint] in lieu of the denial that thou gavest 
him, and let it serve him for ever." Molasius was conducted to 
them then ; the king made genuflection to him, and offered him 
up the land. Molasius blessed it and the banquet with its meats, 
and renovated these so that in the sequel they constituted a feast 
befitting the king and Molasius himself: as the poet said : — 

Moycame the resort of hundreds ... 

S. Molasius of Devenish. 2 7 

After all these miracles which Molasius had performed through- 
out Ireland, the resolve that he took was to go to Rome : to the 
intent that there he should write his life, and should bring back 
to Ireland somewhat of her soil and of her relics. The way he 
took was by Ferns of S. Maedóg; and forthwith this was revealed 
to Maedóg^ who uttered a lay : — 

To-night a company repairs to us . . . 

Hard upon this Molasius reached Ferns ; Maedóg goes to 

meet him, gives him welcome, and afterwards according to his 

wish and to his inclination ministers to him with meat and drink, 

with bed, and with all privacy of conversation ; and so those two 

high saints agreed that, either of them in secret craving any boon, 

the prayers of both respectively should take the one direction : 

that any whom Molasius might bless should be blessed oiMcudog 

also ; and that any whom Molasius might curse should be cursed 

of Maedóg likewise, et e contrario. All behests whatsoever that 

one saint of them should promulgate, both of them to co-operate 

to their fulfilment Molasius said too : '' pray with me that this 

journey on which I go be a profit to the Church in general, and 

to Ireland universally." Between them then they uttered a little 

lay there : — 

Thy prayer, O gentle Maedogy I entreat . . . 

Then Molasius, journeying Romeward, crossed the sea and 
came to Tours of S. Martin. The church of Martin's precinct 
he found shut, with a single warder appointed by God and by 
S. Martin to watch it Molasius asked to have it opened before 
him : " by no means will I open," said the warder ; " but if they 
deem it expedient let God and Martin open before thee." Where- 
upon the seven locks that were on the door opened alone before 
Molasius, and the door's valve receded so that the entrance was 
thrown wide. There Molasius said Mass then, to God and to 
S. Martin ; which done, he took the way to Rome. 

As they [i.e. he and other pilgrims] were of a night, when 
Molasius supped, they saw a snake approach him. Fear and 
horror seized them all before it, but Molasius calls it to him and 
crumbles some of the bread for it ; which it ate, and then licked 
his hand nor did him any harm. 

It was yet another day that Molasius travelled through the 
eastern world : and he came upon masons that did their work. 

28 S. Molasius of Devenish. 

Molasius halted to find fault with them, for the way in which the 
task was done pleased him not. The masons made at Molasius, 
and laid hands on him violently : that was evil in God's sight, 
therefore He turned the masons back, and their hands and feet 
refused their office (for their feet clove to the ground and their 
tongues [i.e. speech] departed from them) ; till [at last] Molasius 
took compassion on them and restored them to their mind and 
senses in order that they should believe, and believe they did 
then, vehemently, in God and in Molasius ; and the grace of God 
came on them : as one said : — 

\scribe omits this poemJ] 

Howbeit, in the gloaming of the eventide Molasius reached 
Rome, and the city was shut before him [i.e. he found it shut] ; 
he asked to have it opened, but the gatekeeper opened not for 
him, and thrice Molasius struck the hand-log upon the city's 
gate. Then throughout the city a great din and a booming roar 
occurred : such that huge fear took them of Rome thereat, and 
they said that it was the Judgment there. Rome's great gate 
opened, and in the city every single thing on which was lock or 
any fastening (whether internal or exterior) opened of itself The 
gate being opened before him thus, Molasius entered into Rome 
and there abode that night. 

On the morrow however all the populace of Rome gathered 
together to one place, where the Pope of Rome was ; and the 
Pope enquired of them all in one spot [saying] : " know ye what 
was the great noise that occurred in Rome, at which fear seized 
on all in general ?" The gatekeeper came and said : " last night at 
even, when the gates were closed, there came a tall and pale-faced 
cleric of the Gael and sought to have them opened. I opened not, 
but, though I did not so, yet God opened before him." The Abbot 
of Rome said : "bring us that Irish cleric." Then Molasius was 
conducted to him, and was made welcome, and bidden to say 
Mass in presence of the Pope and of Rome's people all. They 
forgot nothing in the way of belittling Molasius, of deceiving him, 
and of testing him : he went with them to S. Peter's high altar 
in Rome ; the altar was dressed then for Molasius' use, but no 
missal was given him at all, nor cruet, nor any bell. Molasius 
put on the vestments now, but said that in absence of those 
three things the altar was not adequate to the celebration of 

S. Molasius of Devenish. 29 

Mass thereat. The Romans said : " let the God that gives 
thee everything provide thee with the three things also which 
thou requirest of us." " This is a proving of me," Molasius said, 
"and my Lord in Heaven hears it ;" even as he said it he to his 
Lord lifted his two hands on high and besought Heaven's King 
for help in this conjuncture. When the Creator of all creatures 
heard that, He sent down upon the altar a small missal ; He sent 
a cruet, and along with it a bell. This pleased Molasius well, 
and there, in presence of the Pope and of the Romans too, he 
said Mass and performed pure sacrifice ; after which he preached 
a sermon and purged all hearts in which were evil, and wrong, 
and malice, of such as heard the same. After the Mass that he 
had said and the sermon that he preached, the Pope and his 
twelve cardinals and what was there [of the people] all gave him 
their blessing, and with one accord bestowed on him their souls' 

Then Molasius said : "what shall be done with these three things 
which God hath laid on the altar?" "Take thou with thee thy 
choice of them," the Pope made answer, " for to-day thou art the 
one of us that hast the greatest labour." " I will take," Molasius 
said, "that little Gospel." The Pope rejoined : "fe^ [i.e. 'little'] 
shall be its name for ever;" wherefore men call it soscéla beg 
Malaise [i.e. 'Molasius his little Gospel']. Molasius continued 
excelling in gentleness and in honour, in faith, in devotion, in 
wisdom and in knowledge, and this time was for a season in 
Rome ; so that there he transcribed all that was needed of 
[canonical] law and rule, and of all knowledge, such as was not 
before in Ireland. In accordance with the Pope's permission he 
came later as an illustrious archlegate to Ireland, and when he 
reached his house found, [hanging] on a birchen bough, the bell 
that in Rome was given him on the altar ; and the cruet he 
got in another place. Thrice it was remitted to Rome, and each 
time stole away again after Molasius, wherefore [the name of] 
éloidhech [i.e. 'the deserter'] was bestowed on it 

A load of Rome's soil he brought moreover; with relics of 
Paul, of Peter, of Laurence, of Clement and of Stephen. Some- 
what of [the B.V.] Mary's hair too, with an ankle-bone of Martin ; 
of other illustrious saints' relics a great share, and some relics of 
the holy successors [of Peter] that were sepulchred in Rome. 

30 5*. Molasius of Devenish. 

Molasius arrived in Ireland now; that was revealed to Mae- 
dog^ and he said these words :— 

I hail miraculous Molasius . . . 

After this, Maedóg was not long there when Molasius came 
to Ferns. Maedóg goes to meet him and bids him be welcome. 
Maedóg enquired of Molasius concerning all his travel, from the 
day in which he went out of Ireland until he was come back 
again. Molasius related to him how he had fared both in Rome 
and in every other place. " Leave me my share of the gifts thou 
bringest from Rome," said Maedág, "I will indeed," Molasius 
answered, " and open the bosom of thy frock that I may lay them 
in it for thee." Then Maedóg opens out his bosom, and into it 
Molasius puts some of Mary's hair and of Martin's ankle-bone ; 
somewhat of Paul's relics and of Peter's, a share of Laurence's relics 
and of Clement's, and of Stephen the martyr's relics. Maedóg 
rejoiced to see the sacred relics in his bosom, and said to Mola- 
sius : " now am I well assorted by thee." Molasius answered : 
" brec Maedhóig shall be its name for ever, its privilege shall be 
complete and its miracles many ; none shall dare violate it ; not 
to obey it when it shall happen to be among them shall to the 
seed of Fergna be a red wound of death ; and to the children of 
Brian all, both east and west, a venomous fire ; and to the children 
of Niall and to them of Oriel a destruction and a manslaying. Be 
it well enshrined ; neither is it lawful that any but one in orders 
carry it, or else one that is free from all defilement whatsoever :" 
and one has pronounced a lay : — 

By us Molasius* tale is told . . .* 

As he came from Rome, Molasius chanced upon a certain holy 
man (one that was a namesake of his own : Molasius the Hebrew 
namely) that in the midst of the sea [i.e. in the open sea] floated 
on a fls^stone. Then Molasius and that man changed places, 
and it was upon that stone that Molasius came to Ireland ; for a 
proof of which miracle and for a commemoration of which story 
the same stone endures still in Devenish. 

At all events Molasius, being now returned from Rome, reached 

* The scribe gives but the first line of this poem, to which he appends the 
following note : — "And we do not follow on with any more of the lay, because 
there is nothing in it but the sanie that goes before it ; which is better as it 
is [in prose above] than in bad verse." 

5. Molasius of Devenish. 3 1 

Devenish, where he deposited the relics of Paul, of Peter, of 
Laurence the martyr, of S. Clement and of the martyr Stephen, 
of Mary, and of other that were saints of Rome. Now the 
reason for which he brought hither those relics and those bits of 
soil was that, unless they went for some weighty [special] reason, 
or unless a saint might go thither to write his life, it should not 
be imperative on the Gael to repair to Rome : — 

Well gotten is the land that we have gained . . . 

Molasius having committed those holy relics to the little 
sanctuary as we have said, he was not long in Devenish when 
out of Tara *the apostles* sent a message to fetch him ; for that 
was the hour and the season in which betwixt Dermot, son of 
Cerbhall and king of Ireland, [of the one part] and, of the other, 
Ruadhan of Lothra and all the apostles, there was war and great 
conflict because of the saint's prerogative violated in the matter 
of Aedh Guaire that was king of Connacht : whom Dermot the 
king had taken from Ruadhan and from the saints of Ireland 
forcibly, and he under their protection. Which Aedh Guaire 
king of Connacht it was that a short time before had slain Aedh 
Baclamh because he was displeasing to him [i.e. had offended 

Molasius reached the spot where upon Tara's green the 
apostles were in their tents ; they all rose to receive him, and 
bowed their heads to him, and then Molasius' tent was pitched 
in the midst of all the other saints' tents. Now the [form of] 
contest which they and the king of Ireland maintained was that 
they, relying on their sanctity, on their prayers and on their 
miracles, fasted the one night ; the king of Ireland on the other 
hand, strong in the truthfulness of his cause, in his kingly pre- 
rogative and in his princely right, fasting the next night against 
them. Up to which time they had been eleven saints that fasted 
[lit * at the fasting'], but now that Molasius was come they were 
twelve ; and those apostles were Ireland's prime saints : Ruadhan 
of Lorrha, MaedSg of Ferns, Féichin of Fore, Columba, Cainnech 
the Pious, Tighemach of Cluain-eoiSy Enan the angelic, the pres- 
byter Fraechy Becan son of Culu^ the bishop mac Carthainn^ the 
elder Mochta of Lughba^ Mochuda the devout, and Molasius of 
Devenish. It was nightfall with Molasius as he came to Tara, 
and snow falling heavily ; but it was the saints that fasted that 


32 S. Molasius of Devenish. 

night, and Molasius [just off his journey] fasted with them. On 
that night it was not permitted to the king of Ireland to settle 
himself comfortably nor to be at rest, and he had neither doze nor 
nap of sleep ; but [as in a waking dream] it was shewn to him 
that the men of God, fasting against him on the green of Tara, 
dealt inequitably. Dermot thought it all too long till day came, 
and when come it was they must needs use main force to open 
the doors, for the thickness of the snow. The king of Ireland 
rises and looks abroad upon the tents, and the way they were 
was all pure white with snow, saving only Molasius' tent To 
this the snow had not adhered at all, nor for seven feet on every 
side of it had the earth taken snow. " Who is in yon tent which 
the snow has not caught at all ?" asked the king. " Molasius of 
Devenish," the others answered all, " that came yesterday about 
the hour of nones." "For him it is that this [oppression] is 
flung on me," said Dermot, " and heavily the pale-face of loch 
Erne last night affected me ; he is indeed a living fire ablaze, 
but (as I deem) ought not to have been heavy on me, for my 
burden was very great before ; and now I place myself under 
his safeguard and under that of Heaven's King and Earth's, in 
whom we on either side believe." The matter was shewn to 
Molasius and stirred his pity ; also it was appointed for the king 
of Ireland to confer with the saints that day, and Molasius strove 
to make peace between the king and Ruadhan with the others, 
but prevailed not. Then, when he prevailed not, to the king of 
Ireland Molasius gave his choice : whether to have his life cut 
short and his body tormented [first], with Heaven for his soul 
and with rulership for his seed after him for ever ; or length of 
life coupled with Hell for himself, and none of his seed after him 
to attain to kingly rule and reign for ever and for ever. The 
choice that the king made was to have his body pained, with 
dominion to his seed after him. Even so did God well bring it 
to pass, and therefore it is that Clan-Colman and the seed of 
[Dermot's son] Aedh Sldine are bound to pay to Molasius a 
tribute every year continually in winter : as one said : — 

The apostles twelve of Innisfail . . . 
As for Molasius however, after this he made no farther stay at- 
all at this contest with the saints by Tara ; for in his eyes it was 
a lamentable thing that Tara must be abolished and the seat of 

S. Molasitis of Devenish. 33 

Ireland's sovereignty put from her vigour : he knowing well as 
he did that in the end the saints would prove stronger than the 
king of Ireland. Upon which occasion it was that both the saints 
of Ireland and her [lay]raen all conferred on Molasius the pre- 
eminence in miracles, and precedence in working of wonders 
[i.e. allowed that he was pre-eminent etc.]; for he never ceased 
from performing of miracles, from rooting out the sons of accursed- 
ness [i.e. the reprobate], from lifting up the righteous, from blessing 
the tuatha and the triucha generally throughout all Ireland. 

Next he came to Devenish, and in his way there chanced a 
company of young ecclesiastics that cleared away [a brake of] 
briars and blackthorn ; and they began to bemoan to him their 
hands and their feet, for the thorns pierced them. Forthwith 
[he rent] his mantle for them, and of one portion of the same 
were made [miraculously] gloves of price, as though it had been 
kneaded [i.e. well suppled] glover's leather ; while of the other 
part were produced thick [and as it were] bark-soaked brogues 
like tanner's leather. 

It was in that time that the [tribe called] Dartraighe were in 
the latter end of the great vindictive banishment which they of 
Munster inflicted on them because that to Cashel their rule had 
been so pernicious, and because they had slain so many of the 
úi Chanaill Gftabra\ and for the great extent to which they 
aided foreigners and gentiles as against the Gael, shewing them 
all ways and paths in which their enemies used to be [i.e. the 
most secret recesses of their countries] ; and for this reason it was 
that the Dartraighe were exiled from their original land and 
from their own natural kasc láimhe^ viz. a triucha céd of their 
ancient patrimony in the Southern Half: from céide ua Cairbre 
in the south to uaimh anfhóntorach on the borders of the Cech- 
traighe westward ; and from abhann na hechraidhe to . . . 

Forty years it was that throughout Ireland in her length and 
breadth they were in banishment ; five hundred armed men : 
that was their strength. During which time not more than three 
years they were on any one land ; for the provincial kings used 
to have them under conditions and protection till such time as 
the Dartraighe s own misdeeds would prevail against them : that 
is to say until, for the exorbitant extent of land that they * sucked' 
to themselves [i.e. grabbed and absorbed] and for their turbulence, 


34 «S". Molasius of Devenish. 

their rudeness, and their so frequent brawls and fights in set 
assembh'es, in conventions, and in every other meeting whatsoever, 
the said provincial kings would weary of them. They used 
moreover to make assaults on, and do violence to, Ireland's 
various chieftains : essaying forcibly to occupy their land against 
them ; so that to their 'friends* [i.e. allies by bond of blood] and 
neighbours these needs must make complaint of them. 

Through all this interval it was in Connacht that they were 
for the longest period, and until in attacking western Connacht 
they on the one day slew the king of Umhall and the king of 
Partraighe [baronies of the Owles and of Partry, county Mayo], 
so that they [of Connacht] drove them across Luan^s Ford 
[Athlone] westwards into Meath ; there they sat down in the 
centre of Delvin. Delvin and Westmeath came at them and 
harried them ; but they had done no more than barely to knock 
up bothies [in which to camp together] in one place when the 
Dartraighe caught them in the middle of the plain of Durrow 
[in the King's county]. Here they fought out a stubborn and a 
hardy battle, until they of Delvin with Westmeath were routed 
and a vast *red slaughter' was executed on them. Then the 
Dartraighe returned and made peace with Connacht; [which 
done] they seized both the Delvins [two baronies in Westmeath] 
forcibly for three half years. Thence again they came to the 
fir ceall [barony of Fircall, King's county], with whom for a spell 
and for a space of time they strove for their land ; whereupon 
Fircall, and the Delvins, and the men of Meath, gathered together 
to the Dartraighe and devastated them all but utterly. The 
Dartraighe overhauled them in the rear of their cattle [as they 
drove them], and upon/d» na neach^ which to-day is called ^« 
an ghribaighy they fought a battle. The Delvins and Fircall were 
defeated there, great carnage was inflicted on them, and they 
abandoned the Dartraighés kine. Now the Dartraighe had a 
poet there, and he made a lay : — 

A fight victorious ye have fought . . . 
Here ends the Life of Molasius. 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 35 

Life of S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

Magnenn, and Toa, and Librén, and Cobthach, were the four 
sons of Aedh son of Colgan son of Tuathal son of Felim son of 
CoUa fa ckrich. Which bishop [Magnenn] was, from Shannon 
to benn Edair [the Hill of Howth], a tower of piety ; and in his 
own time a vessel of selection and of sanctity : one that from his 
seven years completed had never uttered a falsehood, and that 
(for fear lest he should see the guardian devil of her) had never 
looked a woman in the face. 

It was once upon a time that Magnenn went upon a visit to 
the house of his companion and of his friend, i.e. to the place 
where Loman of loch Uair [lough Owel] was, in Meath ; and in 
that town was one that also was his friend, and had been his 
hearer. The condition in which now he beheld him was with a 
great running from both his eyes. The holy cleric was startled 
to see his friend, and he uttered thus : " Deo graiias (i.e. to God 
be thanks for that), pitiable, O my friend, is thine eyes' plight : 
they [as it were] mocking at the world, while the world mocks at 
them ! thirty years to this present time it is since I have seen 
thee ; and hadst thou but till to-day done as [then] I counselled 
thee, thou hadst made good thy share of the Heavenly City's 
amenity [which is great indeed] : for the bird which in the 
Heavenly City hath the least, and that the most discordant voice, 
yields more delight than the whole Earth's good things," The 
other answered: "friend, I throw myself on thy protection!" 
Magnenn took on him for God's sake to protect him, and said 
to him : "that which thou wouldst take ill to be done to thyself, 
do not to another ; and though thou be in thy latter time, yet 
. will God take thee to Him [i.e. accept thee]." Magnenn the 
bishop and Loman of loch Uair make pact together then, either 
on other bestows his benediction, and they take leave. 

At which time also Magnenn preached to Dermot son of 
Fergus, to the king of Ireland ; and when Loman of loch Uair 
heard the tokens of tbe Day of Doom and the rigorous judgments 

D 2 

36 S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

of the Triune God, in the king's presence and the people's he 
broke out and wept aloud. When the king's people for their 
part heard that delivery : the saintly cleric's austere verdicts and 
stern enunciations, in the king's presence a score and ten of them 
severed themselves from the false world [i.e. embraced the reli- 
gious life]. Thenceforth the king too, Dermot son of Fergus, 
looked to his own peace with God, and to Magnenn assigned 
great dues and *alms* [i.e. endowments] as: a screpall on every 
nose ; for every chieftain's daughter that should take a husband, 
an ounce of gold or (should his stewards choose it rather) such 
raiment as they [i.e. chieftain's daughters] should have had on 
them [at the wedding]. Of the gold which he had in tribute of 
the men from over-seas the king conferred on him the making 
of a pastoral staff likewise, and of a crozier. At this period 
Magnenn's preaching by loch Uair was notable, as was also his 
consideration with the king of Ireland ; and on Dermot he pro- 
nounced a benediction, saying to him : " misericordia domini super 
filios vestros (i.e. God's mercy be on thyself and on thy sons)." 

It was once when Magnenn went to the house of Finnian of 
magh bile: [as they met] they saluted one another, and when 
they heard the vesper-bell went abroad at vespertide on the 
Sunday. [On the way] they bared their hearts to God and, 
there as they were, they witnessed a linen altar-cloth that with 
an undulating [i.e. fluttering] motion was just come down out of 
the firmament. Said bishop Magnenn : " pick up that, Finnian." 
" Never say it, holy bishop," Finnian answered : " thyself art he 
whom such doth best befit, nor is the thing a likely one for me to 
have." Maignenn the bishop said : " I swear by the angels that, 
until from God I have just such another, I will not lift it." A 
second time they look up to God, and between them crave yet 
another altar-cloth [and it was vouchsafed them] : a miracle by 
which God's name was magnified ; while they, for their devotion's 
efficacity that was so great, vented joyful cries of exultation. 
Now these same linen cloths are in being still. 

It was once on a time that the king of Ireland's steward came 
to require rent of Magnenn's nurse, in whose bosom he (being 
then just three years old) lay the while ; and that which was his 
lawful due the steward took not, but a thing to which he had 
no right at all, that was what he demanded. Magnenn's nurse 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainkam. 37 

(he being as aforesaid in her bosom) wept with a loud cry, and 
straightway the power of one leg, of one arm and of an eye, 
departed from the steward. He vociferated, saying : " I saw a 
dream but lately ; as though I had been guilty in the matter of 
a ' lamb of compassion ;' which lamb I now deem that child thou 
hast to be, and, wouldst thou in his name procure me succour of 
God now, never again henceforth would I lift thy rent on thee." 
The nurse looked on the little boy, and said : " dear son, misery 
should by rights have comfort." When the child heard his 
nurse's words, upwards to God on high he raised his eyes and 
both his hands ; then speedily and on the instant the steward is 
relieved. Indoors there is a clamour, and among them all it is 
reported that Magnenn is a holy child. These then were the 
first miracles of Magnenn. 

Once upon a time Magnenn had a ram sheep that accompanied 
him, and when they walked the ram would carry Magnenn*s 
book of prayers ; but a certain bad man came to Magnenn and 
stole the ram. Magnenn with his thrice nine clerics followed the 
trail to the robber's house ; by various relics, and by Magnenn's 
hand, the marauder denies that he is guilty in the matter of the 
ram, which [at the very instant] partially was in a hole of the 
earth beneath the robber's house, cut up, while another portion 
of the same was in his belly, eaten. For the holy cleric God 
worked a manifest miracle then, so that in the hole where he was 
the ram spoke to them. Magnenn and his thrice nine look up 
to God and thank Him that He had multiplied His miracles. 
As for the thief: from his eye was taken its sight, and their 
vigour from his legs and arms, and in his entire body a mighty 
perturbation wrought ; and with a loud voice he cried : " woe is 
me that am a sinner ! and, O Magnenn, I adjure thee by God 
that thou deprive me not of Heaven besides !" Magnenn, when 
he heard the sinner do an act of penitence, conceived for him an 
affection and compassion ; he made vehement prayer to God, 
and in virtue of supplication won of Him that the blind man's 
eyes [i.e. sight] should return to him, and he be set in his place 
again [i.e. restored as he was before]. By this miracle God's 
name and Magnenn's were magnified, et reliqua. 

Yet another time that Magnenn, being on a circuit of devotion, 
came to the house of Molasius of Leighlin (that was son of Cairell 

38 S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

son of Muiredach Redneck) : now Molasius was so that in híá 
body were thirty diseases, and he (for devotion's sake) penned in 
a narrow hovel. Moreover he was thus : spread out in form of a 
cross, with his mouth to the ground and he weeping vehemently, 
the earth under him being wet with his tears of penitence. 
Magnenn said : " I adjure thee by God, and tell me wherefore 
thou askedst of Him that in thy body there must be three score 
and ten diseases." Molasius answered : " I will declare it, holy 
bishop : my [spiritual] condition is revealed to me as being such 
that my sinfulness like a flame pervades my body ; therefore I 
am fain to have my purgatory here, and * on the yonder side' 
[i.e. beyond the grave] to find the life eternal. Knowest thou, 
Magnenn, how the grain of wheat uses to be before it be sown in 
the earth : that it must needs be threshed and beaten ? even in 
like wise it is that, or ever I be laid into the grave, I would 
have my body to be threshed by these infirmities ; and to God 
be thanks for it that, how near soever death be to me now, thou 
art come my way before I die. For God's love, lay me out 
becomingly; perform thou the order of my sepulture and burial." 
Accordingly Magnenn [when the time came] carried out the 
order of those obsequies, which made the third most exalted 
burial that was done in Ireland : Patrick in dun da leth nglas 
[Downpatrick] ; Mochuda in Rdithin of O Suanaigh [Raheen, 
near TuUamore] ; and Molasius, that by holy bishop Magnenn 
was buried [at Leighlin]. 

It was once upon a time that bishop Magnenn went to the 
place where Finnchua of bH gobhann [near Mitchelstown] was, 
and him he craved to have go with him on a visit to Arran 
where Enda of Arran wa.s, and to which there was resort of Ire- 
land's and indeed of all Europe's saints, where too márphopa papa 
had been (?). So Magnenn» proceeded into Arran, made friends 
with its saints, and then, after achieving victory of penitence and 
of pilgrimage, with the thrice nine holy clerics that were his 
companions came away out of it again. One night [on their 
travel], hard by Garmna^ they were without meat ; and to Mag- 
nenn his people said : " holy cleric, pity it is for us that this 
night we are not in Tallaght where we might have to-night's 
sufficiency, and we so sharp set" Magnenn answered : "young 
men, never say it ! seeing that God succours both poor and 


S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 39 

rich, and that neither is His abih'ty greater to relieve us in 
any other place than it is to help us where we are." Not long 
then they were there when they heard baying and cry of a 
hound having in front of him a deer which, whenever he was 
come close to the holy clerics» fetched a desperate sudden leap 
and so, right before them, broke his neck. Magnenn said : " Deo 
gratias \ temperately eat, and to your Maker render thanks that 
ye are so comfortably conditioned." His people did so, and [the 
refection ended] carried off their several remnants of the fleshy 
In this fashion they tramped on until fastingtide came, and to 
Magnenn a man of his familia said then : " I adjure thee that 
thou impart to us the doctrine and admonitions of fasting [i.e. 
preach to us on its theory and practice}" He made answer : " fast- 
ing profits nought when [independently of thine own will] meat 
is withheld from thee so that thou canst not have it ; nor [is there 
virtue in] a fast based on vanity and pride, which then should be 
the motives of your abstention ; neither is one held to observe 
the fast from meat any more than that of the lips [i.e. tem- 
perance of speech] and abstinence from all faults in general. I 
tell you also, miserable beings, that for the evil which a man 
does actually God impleads him not more straitly than he indites 
him for the good which, when he might have done it, he neglected 
and performed it not Woe to him too that [unconcernedly] 
sees evil wrought, and knows not fear of Him that for ever and 
for ever is the Lord 1" 

It was of another time that Magnenn went on a visit to the ' 
place where Maelruain of Tallaght was, whom he found thus : 
just emerging out of a well of water after chanting of the psalter's 
three times fifty psalms in it Through humility Maelruain 
saluted the sacred bishop, made him great welcome and gave 
him the kiss of peace, saying : " my friend, take heed to me." 
He reached his hand across him and from the hem of the hair 
integument that he wore next his skin plucked a strong fibula, 
with which he dealt himself a blow in the breast on the gospel 
side. Out of the pin's place issued not blood but merely a little 
pinkish fluid ; and the motive of this ordeal was to announce to 
bishop Magnenn that in Maelruain's body pride existed not 
Magnenn replied: "I see that; and why I [for my part] am 
come is to have exhortation of thee, to crave that to thee I may 

40 S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

make confession, and to be purged of all my sins and guiltiness." 
Maelruain said : " in God's name I adjure thee that forthwith 
thou make thy confession." Magnenn began : "thrice I say to 
thee *have mercy on me!' I tell thee (he went on) that from 
the day in which I took holy orders never have I suffered the 
canonical hours to run [unobserved] the one into another ; and I 
tell thee that from the day in which I was baptised never have 
I violated my purity, my chastity ; neither from the time when I 
was called * priest' have I been even for one day without [saying] 
Mass." Maelruain asked now : " holy bishop, in performance 
of corporal labour doest thou any handiwork at all ?" Magnenn 
answered : " nor work nor labour do I ; neither indeed (respect 
to my day being had) is it incumbent on me to perform any 
such." Muelruain cried : " alas for that ! I have never heard 
confession of a man but [with his own hands] laboured for his 
body [i.e. to supply his own corporal requirements]." Magnenn 
rejoined : " then, holy cleric, yield me reverence." Maelruain 
assented : " I will indeed." " I tell thee farther that upon any man 
that ever came to me [to confess] I never laid penance (how 
severe soever) but on mine own body I would inflict one more 
severe than it : thus once on a time came to me the king of 
Saxons' son to confess and to seek devotional tuition, of whom 
I enquired: 'doest thou any handiwork?' he said that he did 
not ; but I affirmed that I would not infringe God's law, and 
the injunction that he gave to Adam when he enjoined him to 
feed himself by his hand's and by his body's labour, and with 
his sweat Alas then that my peregrination and my visit [hither] 
must be even like to his!" But Maelruain returned: "by no 
means : rather shall sages and ancient books have preserved to 
the World's end thy journey hither and the miracles that yet 
shall proceed from thee, as being both very excellent." Magnenn 
the bishop craved: "instruct me for God's sake!" to whom 
Maelruain : " in His name I say to thee : weep for the sin of friends 
and of neighbours [as though it were thine] ; on God set all thy 
thoughts, nor dwell at all whether on friend or comrade, on gold 
or silver, or on the specious World's false show, but thy con- 
fessions and thine heart place all in God ; on Mary — Mother of 
Glory — meditate ; on the great (i,e. the twelve major) prophets, 
together with John the Baptist, ponder; as on the lesser prophets 

S, Magnenn of Kilmainham. 41 

with Habacuc Think on the fourfold Evangel, on the twelve 
Apostles, and on the eleven disciples that He had for followers ; 
on the band of youths that the King Eternal has for a house- 
hold retinue : the token of said retinue being a cross of gold in 
their foreheads, and on their backs a cross of silver. Meditate 
moreover on the nine angelic orders, on bliss of the Heavenly 
City's glory; so shall great privileges appertain to thy succes- 
sion's [i.e. successors'] see, and yonder thou shalt win the glory 
everlasting. This then is my counsel to thee, holy bishop. 
Farther yet : to thy successors' see great prerogatives shall belong, 
and in Ireland thy fire shall be the third on which privilege 
[of sanctity] shall be conferred, i.e. the fire of the elder Lianan 
of Kinvarra, the lively and perennial fire that is in Inishmurray 
[in Sligo bay] and bishop Magnenn's fire in Kilmainham. Thou 
too art the one that to thine own monks, and to such as from 
Shannon to the [eastern] sea accomplish thy prescriptions, shalt 
beside Patrick and Ireland's other saints be their final judge." 

Then the two cemented friendship : to them that [in the 
future] should transgress their behests they bequeathed a curse, 
and eke to be killed with keenest weapons and thrust into the 
hell of Malemantus, of Salemas and of Beelzebub: the chief 
commanders that in Hell are the least merciful [i.e. the most 
ruthless] ; their souls [with their bodies] to be lodged in the 
nethermost tier of Hell's pit. 

Magnenn the bishop had also here three petitions [granted 
him] of God : plenty and honour and worldly wealth to be theirs 
that should favour his clergy and his representative after him ; 
while to them that should persecute his precinct and his own 
peculiar see he left three legacies : a life short and transient, 
blotting out of their posterity, and the Earth not to yield them 
her fruit To them too that being under Magnenn's safeguard 
despair of his protection, woe ! for of God he procures for them 
any rightful petition that they ask of him, and, on this hither 
side [of the grave], length of life with fruitfulness of land ; on 
the yonder side, presence [i.e. fruition] of eternal glory. He 
obtained also that, by whomsoever bishop Magnenn should be 
held dear, the same should be beloved of men. 

Here now are some of bishop Magnenn's perfections : whenso- 
ever he came to a refectory or to drink a draught, before ever 

42 S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

he tasted his meal or that which he should consume he would 
make five meditations : the first of them being how he was born 
originally, and in how mean estate he came from his mother's 
womb ; the second, how in time he should escape out of his 
death-extremity ; the third, how the soul is rapt away to look 
on Hell ; the fourth again, how it goes to contemplate the 
Heavenly City that it may shun being taken back again, 
whereby its self-distrust [i.e. humility and solicitude] is all the 
greater ; the fifth, how the sinners' cairn [Le. the edifice of their 
ambition, how high soever piled] is in a trifling while afterwards 
abased. He used to tell his monks that for the Holy Spirit 
they ought in their inmost parts to leave a passage free : one 
into which they should not admit secular [i.e. material] sustenance. 
Thrice at a time he was wont to say that the World is a mere 
mass of deception, " Look to it, my beloved people," he said, 
" and take heed thereto : if ye spurn God's commandments, how 
shall ye making your petitions to Him look up to Him ? or how 
shall God hearken to your cry and earnest prayer?" 

It was of a time that bishop Magnenn went to the place 
where S. Moling was : a meal of victual was served to them 
and, conformably to precept, sanctified with benediction. Said 
a man of his familia: *' to-day [as we came hither] we marked 
a cross and a fresh grave, but what is buried there we know 
not" Magnenn enquired: "in what spot saw ye that?" The 
other answered : "on an acclivity that is in the side oibema na 
gaoithe [Wind-gap]." The bishop said : " I have never seen a 
cross but I would thrice make genuflection to it ;" his meal, after 
it was blessed and all, he left therefore and (his thrice nine holy 
clerics in his company) went his ways till he came to bema na 
gaoithey where for a long space he was in contemplation of the 
cross and of the grave ; nor spoke to any, but to the cross bent 
the knee three times. His people questioned him, what made 
him to be silent ; he never answered them ; a three hours' spell 
he continued so, then in a voice mild and gentle said : " I charge 
thee tell me who is laid in that grave ; and what the reason that 
I never saw the cross, and I after passing close beside it." The 
miserable being [tenant of the tomb] answering him said : " I 
will tell thee that, holy bishop, even though from thine interpella- 
tion I gain no reh'ef. I am a heathen, and never was it feasible 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 43 

to do evil but I did it ; the weak I harried, I sought to curry 
favour with the strong ; on the feeble churches I exercised perse- 
cution, and incurred excommunication by bell and candle with 
malediction of the righteous; I had death without penitence, 
and all philosophers [i.a learned] of the world could not recite 
the one half of my torment [which indeed could not be shewn] 
unless that Almighty God should tell it Wherefore it is, holy 
bishop, that the guardian angel thou hadst with thee suffered 
thee not to see me [Le. my cross and grave]; and by God I adjure 
thee now, holy bishop, pray for me and bestow on me thy mercy !" 
thereupon Magnenn looked up to God, but his guardian angel 
said to him : " rouse not God's wrath, neither any more idly 
waste thy time." Magnenn made a genuflection, and by the 
same path returned back to the place where Moling was ; and 
the meal which Magnenn had blessed, neither Moling nor his con- 
gregation had tasted of it until he thus was come again. Magnenn 
said : " this is strange, holy cleric ; what is the reason that this meat 
was not consumed ?" The other answered : " we were not worthy 
that we should eat it after that it was blessed by thee." " Holy one, 
never say it! for though all Ireland's saints had blessed it, yet wert 
thou good enough for it, and thee it would have become to eat it" 
They ratify their concord and their amity, and with his thrice 
nine bishop Magnenn goes away. But that night it befell him 
to lose his way, he fell to supplicate instantly to the end he 
(night be freed from that wandering up and down, and [very 
soon] found himself in a mansion where was a great company of 
riotous people. He said : ^ alas for this I bad as it was to stray, 
the crowd is worse : such is its loathliness, and such its ribald 
words." He enquired then whether near at hand there were any 
decent place, and it was told him that hard by was a poor widow 
of but small account ; he repaired to the place where the widow 
was, and she testified her joy at the company of saints that she 
saw draw towards her. The clerics salute her and make a pitch 
on the premises, Magnenn greatly eulogising the decency and 
quietness. " Well for one that is in the life of poverty in which 
thou art," said he, " so long as it be not a poverty suffered against 
the grain [lit a poverty of *unwiir or of 'disinclination'], for in 
the Church such meets with no approval, since him that practises 
it it leads into sin and [later] lamentation." 

-. I 

44 ^' Magnenn of Kilmainham. 

On the morrow Magnenn rose ; all the Saturday he and his 
thrice nine walked ; when the Sunday's [anterior] limit came the 
holy bishop happened to be on an open plain, and there they 
pitch for that night. Throughout which same cold and wet 
night much rain and harsh wind variably veering were their lot ; 
but bishop Magnenn planted his four-square pastoral staff [to 
stand] over them, round about it again each man of them planted 
his own crook-headed staff, over his company of clerics' the holy 
bishop raised [and spread] his four-cornered hood, and for that 
band wrought manifest prodigy : for great as was the night's 
tempest and foul weather, and every pool and hollow brimmed, 
yet upon the saints fell no drop of the storm. On the Monday 
they rose ; those wonders were patent which he had performed 
for the saints, and [the noise of] these miracles pervaded the 
whole of Ireland. 

Of Magnenn's characteristics was the manner of his carrying 
himself in regard to riches, for he never accepted either gold or 
silver or any metal that is denominated fnoneta\ and a Culdee that 
was in Kilmainham bore this great testimony of him, saying : 
" Magnenn the wonder-worker, that never sinned with woman ; 
Magnenn the sage, whose use and wont it was to weep." Farther : 
in preaching he never uttered any one word a second time [in the 
same discourse]; he never left a sermon [after him anywhere] 
but some one or other he had 'brought to faith' [i.e. converted] ; 
nor ever sat at king's shoulder or at chiefs (purposing thus to 
eschew acquiring of a high mind), and honour of kings and of 
mighty lords he would contemn greatly, saying : " alas for him 
to whom, when once he hath renounced the World, honours con- 
ferred by the powerful yield any satisfaction." 

After this it was that from benn Edair came a robber, who 
stole the leper woman of Kilmainham's cow (for the lepress was 
so that she had a cow that was in milk always, and used suf- 
ficiently to supply the poor, the needy and the palsied) ; now she 
had cognisance of the robber, and proceeded (crying aloud as she 
went) to the place where with his gathering of saints and clerics 
bishop Magnenn was ; to whom all she related bitterly how she 
was plundered in the matter of her single cow, whereby she too 
was herself fallen into leanness and emaciation. At this tale 
holy bishop Magnenn and his knot of clerics were angered 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainkam. 45 

exceedingly : the bells in the place, great and small, are rung ; 
and against the robber they with bell, with cursing and with 
malediction, pronounce excommunication. After this [for a long 
time] the holy bishop uttered not, but was silent : without a stir 
whether of foot, of hand, or of any one of his organs ; then he 
spK>ke softly and said that, though he had essayed to pronounce 
a benediction on the robber, the magnitude of his displeasure at 
him was such [that he could not compass it] ; and neither saint 
nor other righteous man obtained of Magnenn that he should 
afTord the thief a prayer or even one sigh of compassion. 
They said : **0 righteous one, wherefore doest thou this?" He 
answered : " I will tell you : for the greatness of mine incense- 
ment it is, and for the weightiness of my severity ; and because 
that I am fain to rouse God's anger to increasing of the everlast- 
ing torment yonderside : in the place where from no friend may 
help be had ; in the place where, when once the soul falls into 
Malemantus' clutch in Hell's pit's nethermost, nor saint nor just 
man may any more gain his petition [for relief of the condemned 

" On them that shall violate my prerogatives and my monks' 
rights I lay three heavy sentences : that their eyes be closed to 
the world that they have loved [i.e may they be blinded], and 
the Heavenly City shut against them so that it be not in their 
power to win it ; to them, the actual violators, I bequeath death 
by weapon's point ; and to their successors after them a niggard 
yield of fruits, as David in the psalter says : semen impiorum 

" Of God I entreat that, on the day when the twelve regal 
thrones shall be set on Mount Sion, on the day when the four 
streams of fire shall gird the mountain round about, and on the 
day when the three peoples shall be there : Heaven's people, and 
Earth's, and Hell's [i.e. angels, men, devils], they that shall have 
outraged me be found guilty of death in Hell. But as for them 
that shall have magnified and fostered me [and my successors], 
may it (with Christ's leave) be myself that, by Patrick's side, 
shall sit in judgment on them." 

Bishop Magnenn said moreover : " woe to him (according as 
the [sacred] records and writings set forth the tokens of the fifteen 
days preceding Doom) that in that day is not [found] true. 

46 S. Magnenn vf Kilmainham. 

faithful, steadfast, mild and gentle and of good report ; without 
frown nor sternness of God's Son bent on him as he comes joy- 
fully to meet [and to resume] his body. But to Lucifer's folk 
that for enhancement of their torment come that day to meet 
their false bodies, misery ! for thus likewise say the scriptures : 
that such shall then be bald, murky of hue, hairless and tooth- 
less ; and though his father and his mother or his wedded wife 
were on either side of one, yet would he never look on them ; 
but tremble all over there, with his heed fixed only on his sins 
arrayed in front of him. Of which crew of Lucifer's no individual 
may filch himself in among Jesus' people ; but they must all be . 
huddled in a grimy gang apart." 

A prophecy of bishop Magnenn's was: that a time should 
come when there should be daughters flippant and tart, devoid 
of obedience to their mothers ; when they of low estate should 
make much murmuring, and seniors lack reverent cherishing; 
when there should be impious laymen and prelates both, per- 
verted wicked judges, disrespect to elders ; soil barren of fruits, 
weather deranged and intemperate seasons ; women given up to 
witchcraft, churches unfrequented, deceitful hearts and perfidy 
on the increase ; a time when God's commandments should be 
violated, and Doomsday's tokens occur every year. 

It was once on a time when bishop Magnenn went on an 
excursion to Athlone : he sat on the [river's] strand, and when a 
certain leper saw the holy bishop 'from him' [i.e. some way off 
as yet] with an exceeding great cry he cried out and said to him : 
** hear my complaint, and entreat the mighty Lord for me 1" The 
holy bishop hearing that laid his heart bare to God, looked up 
overhead, and his compassion yearned on the unclean ; he desired 
water, washed the leper's hands and feet [and he was whole]. 

Of that holy bishop's perfection was this too : that he never 
entered into any place where war or conflict was but merciful- 
ness and pity would [efficaciously] attend that which he said, 
and, before he departed, the parties would be at peace. Lovingly 
he would say to them : " that which is spent ye have had ; that 
which ye have given away ye have yet ; that which ye have 
hoarded up ye have lost ; and that in respect of which ye have 
unbecomingly denied any is [even now] avenged on you." So 
soon then as the tuatha and the tribes would hear that, straight- 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainham, 47 

way they used to make peace, and he would go on to say that 
such was the third thing with which God was best pleased in the 
world [the three being] love to Himselfward, giving of copious 
alms, and maintenance of peaca 

An urchin of his familia — one that was just seven years old — 
said to him: "holy bishop, how must we practise piety?" [the 
answer was]: "early tierce and long none; meat so much as 
may suffice a little boy ; sleep as it were of a captive cast for 
death ; often meditation on God ; not to suffer one canonical 
hour to run into the other without having [duly] meditated on 
it ; much prayer every night : as though that night should be 
one's last, and his own final end, to be determined by his state 
then [lit. *on the head of that'], were the being without limit 
without cessation in the life eternal yonder, in fruition of endless 
existence, and free of all care. Whosoever now shall [by his 
ill course of life] make these behests to be of none effect shall 
abandon [i.a forego, be deprived of] three things: monument, 
son [i.e. male issue], praise [Le. posthumous renown]." 

A habit that bishop Magnenn had : which was that never was 
any for three hours in his company but he would reveal what 
spirit were in him, and would understand speedily whether it 
were good angel or bad that accompanied any man's body [i.a 

He studied fervently with Ireland's twelve apostles, whose 
names were these : two Finnians^ two Colmans, Kieran, Cainnech 
[S. Canice], ComghcUly two Brendans, Ruadhán^ Nindidh^ Mobhi 
son of Nadfraedt ; and these [I say] are the twelve arch-saints 
that together with Patrick were in Ireland, being also (along 
with bishop Magnenn) preceptors in devotion and in exhortation. 
Who all blessed him in every increment of piety that they could 
think of. 

It was another time that on a devotional tour Magnenn went 
to the place where Mochuta of Raheen was, and Mochuta 
enquired : " how art thou, my friend ?" "I am not as I have 
been ; and shall be not as I am, and shall yet go to nothing. I 
tell thee, Mochuta, that I have seen an ancient man requiring of 
his sons to be virtuous, and sure his own members nor his senses 
he never disciplined from the world's evil ways." 

Hard upon which Mochuta questioned him : " in the case pf * 

48 S. Magnenn of Kilmainkam. . 

such as, being in orders, break their vows, what shall we do?" 
Magnenn answered : " by leave of God's angel I will tell thee : 
I affirm that whatsoever priest violates his orders or his chastity, 
the same is toward God guilty of death thereby ; and whatsoever 
woman shall indulge but one ordained man's propensity, I hold 
it to be the same as though she had not shunned an individual 
man in all three portions of the world : the reason of this being 
that it is proper to a priest [i.e. one of his attributes] to walk in 
the honour of his orders in all three parts of the world [i.e. to 
keep himself intact in all peregrinations however distant]. Or 
again [I take her guilt to be] as though*^she had ten thousand 
husbands, and ten hundred supra milf^ : the reason of which is 
that they be ten thousand legions of angels which accompany 
the body of every priest that is chaste; and this is caused by 
the fact that he, even as Jesus, is in everlasting supplication [i.e. 
intercession] on the angelic altar. Woe to him too to whom 
after a priest such woman shall become a prize : for to be familiar 
with her and to know her is a [thrusting of the] head into mire ; 
and a renunciation of baptism, of faith, of piety ; a pact with 
Lucifer, with Dathan and with Abiron ; with Pluto and with 
Beelzebub ; with Malemantus, with the swart sow, and with the 
chief captains of Hell's host" And these were bishop Magnenn's 
testifyings anent concubinage of women and of priests. 

Mochuta said : " tell us, holy bishop, how must pilgrimage be 
made ?" " There be three species under [i.e according to] which 
one, when he leaves his country, enters on a journey of pilgrimage; 
and but one cause for which of God he wins the Heavenly King- 
dom, all which is as thus : when of his heart and mind and of 
veritable zeal one breaks with the world's vices [and becomes a 
pilgrim], then in such wise he attains unerringly to God ; but 
when he goes on a pilgrimage indeed, the while his mind dwells 
[at home] on his children, on his wife or on his land, and he 
prefers them to God : then is his peregrination in vain, nor, saving 
displacement of body [i.e. locomotion] and idle toil, has he any 
profit of the same ; for to have gone abroad out of his own 
natural patrimony is but small gain to any unless thereafter he 
shall [be found to] have made the pilgrimage efficaciously. Also 
when faithful Abraham went forth out of his own peculiar father- 
land the Lord gave him counsel, which was this : ' henceforth 

S. Magnenn of Kilmainham. 49 

reck no more of thy land and soil, neither be thy mind bent to 
return again to it' And this is the guardian angePs counsel to 
every man that may make pilgrimage : not to repeat, by act 
whether of hands, of feet, of body, the ethics which in the land 
where he has been [hitherto] were his [and to expiate which he 
is a wanderer now] ; for by the standard of proficiency in morals 
and in virtuous practice it is that God rates every individual of 
the human race. Again : such and such performs a pilgrimage 
[virtually] when (himself [i.e. his person] abiding still among his 
family) he finds his heart vehemently incline to pilgrimage, but 
(though he find it so) feebleness, or poverty, or burden of house- 
hold care suffers him not to perform it [actually] ; which [inward 
motion or intention] then is to him the same as though [in the 
body] he visited the tombstones of Peter and of Paul, and Christ's 
sepulchre : supposing it to be thither he were bound and that 
the flesh [with its infirmities] hindered him, which then should 
assume the soul's responsibility for the pilgrimage left unmade ; 
[lastly] every Christian is bound to be subject to the rule of 
Church, for with the Lord that judges equitably contrition is 
imputed for devoutness. This then is the problem which in the 
way of conversation and for friendship's sake thou didst propound 
to me [lit 'askedst of me']." 

Magnenn said : " knowest thou, Mochuta, at what time comes 
the roth rdmhach [*the Rowing Wheel'] prognosticating the 
Perverter's advent in Ireland ?" " Thus Antichrist shall come : 
as one that is mighty and wise, yet foolish : foolish namely as 
towards God, but wise to work out his own proper detriment ; 
one whose mother (for he is a daughter's progeny by her father) 
is a sister of his own ; one whose entire face is but one flat 
surface, and he having on each foot six toes ; and the manner of 
him is besides that he is a judge violent and black [i.e. pitiless 
and unjust] having in his forehead a light grey tuft ; out of all 
metals he makes gold [i.e. transmutes them] and raises up the 
dead. In whose time mercy shall not be until that Eli come 
and Enoch . . . \c<Btera desiderantur\' 


50 S. Cellach of Kiliala. 

Life of S. Cellach of Killala. 

A king that ruled over Connacht : Eoghan Bél^ son of Cellach 
son of Olioll Molt son of Dathi son of Fiachra son of Eochaidh 
Moyyane : — Every province in Ireland he used to ravage, and 
would return victorious, bringing his prey with him ; neither out 
of his own province was prey ever driven from him successfully, 
for it was in front of him the defeat was always. But when he 
might not (before it actually left his confines) overtake such prey 
attempted on him, then would he on that very day provisionally 
harry the self-same country into which his prey was lifted. Why, 
even the Munster- and the Leinstermen obeyed him and (their 
kine having now many times been driven forcibly) were fain to 
court his favour. 

At all events, betwixt this Eoghan and the children of Niall a 
great feud fell out ; till not these only but the whole two pro- 
vinces stood opposed, province to province : Connacht and Ulster. 
Their conditions were unequal however, inasmuch as never had 
Eoghan Bel suflFered loss of a battle, nor was salvage ever had 
of him ; while of his preys taken and triumphs won of Conall, and 
of Eoghan, and of Oriel, the frequency was beyond counting ; 
for so long as Eoghan Bel lived never a day's peace was made 
with them, but every quarter of a year (aye, every month) he 
raided them and put them to the sword's edge. Thus then the 
children of Niall deemed it a hard thing, and a grievous, in this 
wise ever to endure violence of Eoghan Bel and of Fiachra's 
progeny ; the remainder of Connacht too being all upon them. 
Ulster in general therefore, casting about what they should do, 
were resolved on muster and preparation for a foray in full 
numbers, and so fell upon the land of Connacht. 

Two kings they were that at this time ruled them [Ulster] : 
Fergus and Donall, Muirchertach mac Erca's two sons ; on 
Connacht now these made great preys, and all before them to 
the Moy ravaged completely, utterly : at driving of which stealths 
they were a gathering five battles strong. Clan - Fiachrach's 

S. Cellach of Killala. 5 1 

braves set out indeed to pursue, but never a cow was taken from 
the others nor a sword dulled on them until, at the bridge of 
Martra, Eoghan's family and household. overtaking them pressed 
them hard and sore in fight, and at sceichln na gaoithe Eoghan 
himself too caught them up. He (seeing the so great host) to 
Fergus, to Donall, and to Ulster's nobles despatched ambassadors 
(men of science and of art) who should bid them abandon the 
prey in its integrity and so depart in peace, or otherwise be 
challenged presently to battle. The envoys sought Fergus and 
Donall, to whom they delivered Eoghan's mandate; but they, 
as having their prey in front of them and being therefore high 
in spirit and cheery to abide the fray, denied all restitution. Of 
clan-Neill and of Ulster there were there five battles, with them 
of Oriel added ; one huge battle of clan-Fiachrach, and Con- 
nacht's braves besides in their own separate companies, but all 
under Cellach's son Eoghan Bel. 

When Eoghan heard that which from clan-Neill his poets 
brought him back, he dismounted ; for they told him that for 
this time war was his one alternative, nor should he ever [so said 
Ulster] — ^no, though he stood the battle — ^win back a single cow. 
Then Connacht armed and, sudden, swift, unsparing, charged 
upon clan-Neill. At sight of Eoghan's standard and of the 
banners that so many a time had had their preys, Ulster turned : 
either side in hate quivering to reach the other, and between 
them there the battle of Sligo was delivered. It was won against 
the North of Ireland : their prey was captured from them, and 
innumerable slaughter of their people made ; Fergus and Donall 
moreover perished there ; Eoghan Bel too being hurt heavily, so 
that it was upon spears' shafts he was borne away. For three 
days (as some say) he lived on, or (as yet others have it) for a 
week ; to and from him the nobles went and came, their lamenta- 
tion for him being very great the while. 

Upon the king now, upon Ex>ghan Bel, the surgeons plied the 
hand ; but in the end it was a thing assured that he must die, 
and the children of Fiachra sought counsel of him who he might 
be that in his room they should make chief. Eoghan Bel said : 
" your plight is strait ; two sons I have : Cellach (disciple to 
Kieran of Cluain) and Muiredach the younger son that by his 
youth is not as yet fit for inauguration. My counsel to you is 

E 2 

52 S. Cellach of Killala. 

this therefore : repair to Cluain, to Kieran where he is, and him 
entreat with craving of his consent that Cellach be dismissed 
with you to be made chief, seeing that ye have none other that 
is fit In which matter be careful to beseech him instantly." 
This done, Eoghan prescribed the manner of his burial : in the 
open field in the borders of clan-Fiachrach, with his spear red 
in his hand and his face toward the North ; " for," said he, " so 
long as my grave shall confront them, I having also my face 
turned to them, against Connacht they shall not endure in battle." 
Thus he was laid accordingly, and the rest which he prophesied 
was accomplished veritably: for wheresoever afterwards clan- 
Neill and Connacht chanced to meet, it was defeat that fell on 
them [the former] and on the North in general. Wherefore 
Niairs children and the North were determined thus : that with 
a great host they would come to rath ua Fiachrachy lift Eoghan 
and carry him off northwards over Sligeach, So they did, and 
away there in the flat land of loch Gile [lough Gill] he was buried 
with his mouth downwards. But as Eoghan Bel had instructed 
them to go, so too clan-Fiachrach went to Clonmacnoise and to 
the place where Kieran was in prayer; who when they were 
come to him bade them be welcome, and bestowed them in a 
cubicle. That night they were well provided, and to Kieran 
shewed their errand afterwards ; but his disciple he denied them 
utterly. Nevertheless, and for all he thus refused their prayer, in 
Cluain they tarried yet a second night and until Cellach came to 
visit them. They conferred with him, and supplicated him that 
he would go with them ; so that in the end he yielded to bear 
them company, and departed on the morrow nor of his spiritual 
master took farewell at all The thing was told to Kieran : how 
that without counsel had of him his disciple thus was stolen 
away. Kieran said : " if he be gone indeed, then may the choice 
that he hath made not thrive with him, but with that he under- 
takes let him have malison : so may it be that, at the last, 
pernicious grief come at him, and * death by point' be that which 
shall displace him. I, acting for my Lord that is Heaven's King 
and Earth's, bequeath moreover that for all time such death by 
point be that which, beyond every help and without fail, shall 
take him whosoe'er he be that thus deserts his student-life." 
As for Cellach : him Eiachrach's children led away, and con- 

S. Cellcick of Killala. 53 

ferred on him clan-Fiachrach's chiefiy from the Rodhba to the 
Codnach, For a while he held it, but when he heard that his 
preceptor cursed him the life misliked him. At which same 
time Colman's son Guaire was so that throughout Ireland his 
fame and honour now excelled : clan*Fiachrach oi Aidhne being 
by way of territory all his own. Thus, and without delay, things 
(in respect of land tenure) went ill between the pair, in whom 
anon it was notorious that either hated other. Yet even so they 
trysted, and set a meeting at which they made peace ; but of 
Guaire's part guile entered into this their pacification, and towards 
Cellach he acted traitrously : killing there all so many as he 
might lay hold on of his people, Cellach with thrice nine of his 
following escaping forth out of the camp privily. 

Now was he for a full year 'under wood* [i.e. a fugitive and 
outlaw in the forest], weariness filling him and remorse that 
ever he forsook his student-life, as well as for much good that 
Kieran had done for him. Continually he rebuked himself, so 
grieved he was for that which it was befallen him to do. " Woe 
is me (he csried) into whose head it entered ever for grossness of 
this wretched fleeting world to quit my learning and my master !" 
then he said : — 

" Alas for him that for any of the vile rude World's estates forsakes the 
clerkly life — woe to him that for a transient world's royalty gives up a faithful 
God's great love ! Alas for him that in this life takes arms, unless that for 
the same he shall do penance ; better for one are the white-paged books with 
which canonical psalmody is chanted. Grand as may be the art of arms, 'tis 
yet of slender profit and fraught with heavy toil ; of it one shall have but a 
most brief life, which in the end must be exchanged for Hell. But of all 
callings stealth is the worst : sneaking, perjured, nimble thieving ; he that 
commits it, though at one time he have been ne'er so good, thenceforward is 
but as a wicked one. Of all which evil things a large portion is fallen to 
Cellach son of Eoghan now : from table to table as he wanders with a gang 
of villains, let him beware of death. Alas for him who to have black murk 
servitude of Hell abandons Heaven, blest abode of saints ; O Christ, O Ruler 
of Battles, woe to him that deserts his mighty Lord !" 

This great fit of penitence having taken Cellach, the plan upon 
which he hit was that the nine his companions in the late war 
with Guaire should seek out Kieran of Cluain his tutor ; he 
himself being shy of trusting to Kieran, by reason that previously 
he had disobeyed him. Outside of Cluain" he waited therefore, 
and until there he met with certain of his whilom condisciples 

54 S. Cellach of Killala. 

and fellow clerics. They bade him welcome and kissed him ; 
into the town he entered with them and, all unknown to Kieran, 
that night abode there. Along with him on the morrow the 
heads of the community went to the place where Kieran was, 
to supplicate for peace and mercy ; and to his master there he 
bent the knee. Then, though his first displeasure had been so 
great, Kieran repenting him of the curse which he had laid on 
Cellach vouchsafed him peace : " my son (he said), if I might do 
it, thy curse I would revoke ; which since I may not, God never 
be for that less favourable to thee, nor for my utterance of such 
be thy place in Heaven cut off." 

The Holy Spirit's grace, and love of the Trinity, entered into 
Cellach then ; and he enjoined his people to go back to the spot 
in which Muiredach his brother was (and where the youth chanced 
to be at the time was in the king of Luighnés house) : ** be with 
him," Cellach said, " and cleave to him continually." As Cellach 
prescribed to them, so they went their way and became thence- 
forth people of Muiredach's. 

As for Cellach, zealously he bent his head to study, pursuing 
it strenuously, with circumspection ; and for each degree of incre- 
ment in his learning, thrice so much his almsgiving, his charity, 
and all other his good works progressed. Fame of his piety 
overspread Ireland, men loved him with an universal love and, 
Cellach in all things acting according to his preceptor's word, 
Kieran was well pleased with him. Priest's orders were conferred 
upon him now, in which long time he rested ; but then came the 
clergy of his tribe and elected him to a bishopric : episcopal 
orders were laid on him, and for a bishop's see he had Killala^ 
This greater bishopric of his henceforth he administered indeed, 
but for the most part was in Clonmacnoise rather than in his 
diocese. In all Ireland was none of more renown for honour, 
for piety, for clerkly bearing ; none whom the erudite cherished 
more dearly, and all denominations of them adhered to him. 

He once upon a time, on episcopal visitation bound, with a 
great company of clerics mounted came to Kilmore of the Moy ; 
and where Guaire son of Colman chanced to be that day was in 
Dúrlas Guaire, his confidentials (many in number) with him. In 
his immediate fellowship were his own son Nar mac Guaire too ; 
and Ferchoga's son Nemedh, an uncontaminated [i.e. utterly 

S. Cellach ojKillala. 55 

devoted] fosterling to Guaire, to whom this man Nemedh said : 
" in guise unfriendly, and ill-disposed of mien, Cellach the bishop 
hath given us the go-by." Guaire made answer: "it matters 
not ; I will send after him messengers to bid him come speak 
with me," and so despatched to Cellach a man of the confidential s 
(the precise time then being noon of a Saturday). To the bishop 
the envoy said : " in that ye passed him by [a while ago] Guaire 
is but ill pleased with thee ; yet come even now and speak with 
him." " I will not go," Cellach returned : " 'tis vesper-time, and 
no transgrression of the Lord's-day do I ; but here to-morrow I 
will say my hours and will give Mass, the which (if it so please 
him) let him come to hear, and afterwards confer with me ; he 
has no long way to come. But, should he not care to do this, 
then will I (he again consenting) on Monday go to him." 

Back again to Guaire the messenger departed, and repeated 
to him all Guaire's utterance ; in addition he set forth that 
Cellach had refused [peremptorily] to come with him, and accused 
him that to Guaire he bore no love at all. By reason of this, 
great anger entered into Guaire and he said to his emissaries : 
" return to Cellach ; warn him that this night he quit the country ; 
if he go not, then shall the church in which he is be burnt upon 
him : it and his people all." The same messenger then, having 
again sought Cellach, disclosed Guaire's message fully. "God 
betwixt me and the unrighteous," he replied, and up to Monday's 
morning never left the spot Out of it he departed then and 
came into the borders of loch Con, where he spent the night ; 
next he gained the loch which men to-day call Claenloch^ and 
gazed upon it until forth before him in the loch he saw an island 
{piUn Etgair is its name) over which it was revealed to him that 
much angelic ministration was performed. He drawing near 
enquired whether there [in the island] were any benediction of 
some saint ; but they [of the country] said that never had saint 
conferred a blessing on it Then Cellach said : " even so ; here 
it is that 'tis ordained for me to be a hermit" His people jeering 
at him and, again, dissuading him from all project of abiding in 
the island, he rejoined : " that I must stay here is decreed ; but 
take ye your departure, for in my bishopric your [own appointed] 
places are many [and are various]." 

Loath as they were they did so and, saving four clerics in his 

56 S. Cellack of Killala. 


company, left Cellach all alone; which four were Maelcráin^ 
Maeldálua^ Maelsenaigh^ and Macdeoraidh : Cellach's condisciples 
once. From Shrovetide until Easter they continued in perform- 
ance of their office, serving God zealously ; through Ireland the 
noise went forth that holy bishop Cellach (his bishopric aban- 
doned) lived a hermit's life ; then Easter-time came round and 
his brother, Eoghan Bel's son Muiredach visited him often, nor, 
but by his counsel, did anything at all. All which when Guaire 
heard, rage possessed him and enmity to Cellach ; so that, ill 
as things stood between them previously, now they were worse 
by far ; for he feared that Muiredach (through prompting of his 
brother Cellach, as well as for his own inherent qualities^ and 
cognisance of being himself apt matter of a chief) would grasp 
at the main power. Over and above which, his son Nar, and 
Nemedh son of Ferchoga, daily and nightly plying Guaire with 
forged and wicked tales of him, harped on it to Guaire that lie 
must slay holy bishop Cellach. A treason they contrived between 
them then, which was : to bid Cellach come visit them, and to 
have poison all ready made against him ; for hateful as he was 
to Guaire, yet would the king not that in his very presence 
weapons were used upon him. So they did : with intent on 
Cellach they prepared poison, then to the island where he was 
in his loch sent messengers with charge that, Cellach refusing, 
they should invite his condisciples to repair to Guaire in order 
that hither and thither betwixt the two they might do friendly 
message-bearers' office. In his isle these envoys lighted upon 
Cellach (who just then read his hours) and saluted him. He 
greeted them, and they told him that from Guaire they came to 
fetch him, both to a great feast which the king had for him, and 
to speak with him. " No more will I go thither," Cellach said, 
" nor for sake of the perishable poor world's feast or favour neglect 
mine offices." " Never do their bidding," the condisciples cried, 
"and in Guaire it is but fondness to imagine that by things 
such as these thou mayest be drawn to love him." The envoys 
said : " suffer then that thy condisciples come with us ; so shall 
Guaire be well pleased with thee, and whatsoever privy errand 
he shall have to send thee they will convey." Cellach said : '* I 
will not hinder them, nor yet constrain them to it ;" and when 
Maelcróin with the others heard him, all four together accom*- 

S. Cellach of Killala. 5 7 

panied the envoys in their return to Guaire, where he was in 
Dúrlas, He gave them welcome and rejoiced to see them come ; 
with meat and drink they were provided sedulously. 

Then a banquetting-house apart was set in order for them, and 
thither for their use the fort's best liquor was conveyed. On 
Guaire's either side were set two of them and, with an eye to win 
them that they should quit Cellach, great gifts were promised 
them : all the country of Tirawley ; four spinster women such as 
themselves should choose out of the province, with these their 
wives' sufficient complement of horses and of kine (such gifts to, 
be by covenant secured to them) ; and of arms a present adequate 
equipment to be furnished to each one. That night they bode 
there, and at the morning's meal with one accord consented to 
kill Cellach. Thence they departed to loch Con ; where they 
had left the boat there they found it, and then pulling off reached 
Cellach. He was thus : his psalter spread before him as he said 
the psalms ; he never spoke to them ; he made an end of psalm- 
ody and, looking on them, marked their eyes unsteady in their 
heads and clouded with the hue of parricide. 

" Young men," said Cellach, " ye have an evil aspect ; since ye 
went from me your natures ye have changed, and I perceive in 
you that for king Guaire's sake ye are agreed to murder me.** 
Never a tittle they denied, and he went on : " an ill design it is ; 
but follow now no longer your own detriment, and from me shall 
be had gifts which far beyond all Guaire's promises shall profit 
you." They rejoined : " by no means, Cellach, will we do as thou 
wouldst have us, seeing that, if we acted so, not in all Ireland 
might we harbour anywhere ;" and even as they spoke, into Cel- 
lach they plunged their spears in unison ; yet he made shift to 
thrust his psalter in between him and his frock. They stowed 
him in the boat amidships, two of themselves in the bow, and so 
grained a landing-place ; thence they carried him into the great 
forest and into the dark recesses of the wood. Cellach said : 
" this that ye would accomplish I esteem to be a wicked work 
indeed, [the which would ye even now renounce] in Clonmacnoise 
ye might shelter safe for ever ; or should it please you to 
resort rather to Bláthmac and to Dermot (sons to Aedh Sláine) 
now ruling Ireland [with them ye would be secure] ;" then he 
ipdited : — 

58 S. Cellack of Killala. 

" O ye young men that terrify me, to Heaven's high King pride is abomi- 
nable ; distorted as your eyes are, the secret of your hearts is more perverted 
still. As against me ye have consented— cruel resolve foreboding violence ; 
the shame of it shall long endure to you, and parricide bring you repentance 
yet Ye being they that kill me [visibly] are not, as I believe, my veritable 
slayers ; but Kieran's curse, my tutor's [strikes me] — a bum is hottest in the 
after-pain. The curse is very bad for me, yet seek I not to shun my butcher- 
ing; but to you it shall be a plague and a consternation that on me ye ever 
plied the bloody hand. A certain One I have upon my side, the like of whom 
existeth not : with Christ my cause is bound up closely, the angels' Heaven 
shall be my dwelling-place. Treason it was when ye were determined to fall 
on me unrighteously ; but death by point shall in the end work your destruc- 
tion and, O ye young men, Hell awaits you!" 

" Farther to advise us in the matter is but idle," they retorted ; 
"we will not do it [i.e. thy bidding] for thee." "Well then," he 
pleaded, "this one night's respite g^ant me for God's sake." 
"Loath though we be to concede it, we will yield thee that," 
they said ; then raised the swords which in their clothes they 
carried hidden, and at the sight of them a mighty fear took Cel- 
lach. They ransacked the wood until they found a hollow oak 
having one narrow entrance, and to this Cellach was committed, 
they sitting at the hole to watch him till the morning. They 
were so to the hour of night's waning end, when drowsy longing 
came to them and deep sleep fell on them there. Cellach, in 
trouble for his violent death, slept not at all ; at which time it 
was in his power to have fled (had it so pleased him), but in his 
heart he said that it were misbelief in him to moot evasion of the 
living God's designs. Moreover he reflected that even were he 
so to flee they must overtake him, he being after Lent [just 
passed] but poor and feeble. Morning shone on them now, and 
he (for fear to see it and in terror of his death) shut to the door ; 
yet he said : " to shirk God's judgment is in me a lack of faith, 
Kieran my tutor having promised me that I must meet this end ;" 
and as he spoke he flung open the tree's door. The raven called 
then, and the scallcrow, the wren, and all the other birds ; the 
kite of í/«^z/«-^í?'í yew-tree came, and the *red hound' [wolf] of 
druim mic Dair (yclept the brécaire i.e. * the deceiver') whose lair 
was by the island's landing-place. " My dream of Wednesday's 
night last past was true," says Cellach: "that four *wild dogs' 
rent me, and dragged me through the brackens ; that down a 
precipice I fell then, nor evermore came up ;" and he pronounced 
this lay : — 

S. Cellach of KillalUf 59 

" Hail to the Morning fair that as a flame falls on the ground — hail to Him 
too tiiat sends her — the Morning many-virtued ever new ! O Morning fair 
so full of pride — O sister of the brilliant Sun — ^hail to thee, beauteous Morning, 
that lightest my little book for me 1 Thou seest the guest in every dwelling — 
shinest on every tribe and kin — hail O thou white-necked, beautiful, here 
with us now — O golden-fair and wonderful ! My little book with chequered 
page tells me my life hath not been right ; Maelcróin — 'tis he whom I do 
well to fear : he it is that comes to smite me at the last O scallcrow and O 
scallcrow, grey-coated, sharp-beaked, paltry fowl ! the intent of thy desire is 
apparent to me, no friend art thou to Cellach. O raven, thou that makest 
croaking ! if hungry thou be now, O bird ! from this same rath depart not 
until thou have a surfeit of my flesh. Fiercely the kite of cluain-ec^s yew- 
tree will take part in the scramble ; his hom-hued talons full he'll carry off, 
he will not part from me in kindness. To the blow [that fells me] the fox 
that's in the darkling wood will make response at speed ; he too in cold and 
trackless confines shall devour a portion of my Hesh and blood. The wolf 
that's in the rath upon the eastern side oidruim mic Dair\ he on a passing 
visit comes to me, that he may rank as chieftain of the meaner pack. On 
Wednesday's night last past I saw a dream : as one the wild dogs dragged 
me eastwards and westwards through the russet ferns. I saw a dream : that 
into a green glen men took me ; four they were that bore me thither, but (so 
meseemed) ne'er brought me back again. I saw a dream : that to their house 
my condisciples led me ; for me then they poured out a drink, a draught too 
they quaffed off to me. O tiny wren most scant of tail ! dolefully thou hast 
piped prophetic lay ; surely thou art come to betray me, and to curtail my 
gift of life. Wherefore should Macdeoraidh, dealing treasonably, seek to 
hurt me ? a monstrous act : for brothers two my father and Macdeoraidh's 
father were. Why should Maeldálua go about to injure me, he that of a 
truth hath shewn me treachery ? for sisters twain my mother and Maeldálua's 
mother were. Why should Maelsenaig lust to harm me, he that in the con- 
spiracy hath used me guilefully ? for well I wot that he is a pure man's son — 
Maelibair's son Maelsenaig. O Maelcróin and O Maelcróin, thou art resolved 
on a deed that is iniquitous I for ten hundred golden ingots Eoghan's son had 
ne'er consented to thy death. O Maelcróin and O Maelcróin, pelf it is that 
thou hast taken to betray me ! for this World's sake thou hast accepted it, 
accepted it for sake of HelL All precious things that ever I had — all sleek- 
coated young horses — on Maelcróin I would have bestowed them that he 
should not do me this treason. But Mary's great Son up above me thus 
addresses speech to me : * thou must have earth, thou shalt have Heaven ; 
welcome awaits thee, Cellach.' ^ 

By them now Cellach was lifted out of the tree, and first of all 
Macdeoraidh struck him ; afterwards Maeldálua, Maelsenaigh 
and Maelcróin [in order] struck him ; and in such fashion there 
they did to death the holy bishop, Eoghan Bel's son Cellach ; 
then after their master, their lord, their sacred kinsman murdered, 
went their ways to Guaire, who (for all their deed was heinous) 

6o iS. Cellach of Killala. 

met them right joyously. To him [Cellach] the ravens, and the 
scallcrows, and the forest's several preying things flocked together 
(as he himself had presaged for them), and of his flesh and blood 
consumed somewhat ; but every preying creature whatsoever that 
much or little ate of him died on the spot 

Touching holy bishop Cellach's brother Muiredach, son of 
Eoghan Bel : that same day he came looking for his brother, 
even as many a time before he came for speech with him and to 
have counsel of him, seeing that but by Cellach's precept (his 
precept namely that was his teacher, his brother and his spiritual 
father all in one) he did nought. When therefore he came as he 
used ever to the island's ferryport, yonder in the island he heard 
nor speech nor chant of Cellach. The boat indeed they [he and 
his] got at the port, but the isle when they were come into it 
they found all void : Cellach not there at all. In haste they 
returned, and so soon as Muiredach [by questions] heard that 
the young clerks had been to Guaire's house, he knew that there 
Cellach had been pointed out to them to slay. The way that he 
took now was by the spot where the Congheilt dwelt, between 
loch Cuilinn and loch Con. To guard which Congheilt a raging 
beast opposed them, presently and before his face killing nine 
of his people. Eochaidh's son Conall, his condisciple, chid him 
for this, and said that a king's son enduring thus to view his 
people slaughtered by the beast could be but recreant In quest 
of the monster Muiredach went forth then and dived into the 
loch, but the first time found her not ; a second time he «went, 
and at the third hit her track, and up out of the loch followed 
her till he came on her where she slept gorged. Through her 
and into the earth he thrust his sword ; she with the weapon 
stuck in her [fled and] sprang into the loch. Muiredach followed 
by the track and fought with her ; in which fight he was hurt 
grievously, but in the end killed the beast, took her head, and to 
Conall his condisciple with his folk in general carried it ashore. 
Conall said : " a gallant fight is that thou'st fought, my son : to 
slay the Congheilt's monster; whence also thy name shall be 
' Cuchongeilt'" (and so the practice grew of calling him Cuchon- 

Away they came, and through the wild wood followed on a 
track of five : followed zealously, until they found the cluba 

S. Cellach of Killala. 6i 

where those had left them. " Even so/* said Muiredach : " for a 
token to slay Cellach these clubs were brought from Guaire. Let 
them lie, and follow we the traces of the band." Again they 
went upon the trail, and so found the tree with Cellach's body 
there : part eaten by the creatures. The gruesome deed lay 
heavy upon Muiredach, and he said : — 

" Dear was he whose body this is : to mine own death his death I liken ; 
the corpse of Eoghan Bel's son Cellach I see drenched in its own blood. 
Sister for me is none, alas] in Ireland's nor in Scotland's land ; my father is 
dead, dead my mother, now God hath left me brotherless. If it be not with 
pure Gelghéis, or else with Conall, Eochaidh's son, I know not whether with 
any now kindness there be or yet dear love for me. O loch Claen, and O 
loch Qaen, henceforth thou prosperest no more ! for not from slaughter 
savedst thou that which now is but the corpse of Eoghan's son Cellach. 
Thy bands of kerne thou, Cellach, didst renounce to follow psalmody with 
light ; valour's deeds thou gavest up for books full of all purity. The feasting- 
house thou didst desert for frequentation of the altar ; tributes thou didst 
forego, O man \ in Jesus the Beloved didst place thy love. In vengeance of 
high Eoghan's son, Macdeoraidh is as good as slain by me ; lapped in his 
own blood shall Macdeoraidh lie, that butchered thus dear Eoghan's son. 
His pious clerkly life was good in his beautiful yew-shaded church ; dear was 
his head of hair so fair, dear is his corpse and well-beloved. In vengeance 
of the white-skinned Cellach, Maeldálua is as good as fallen by my hand ; 
in this foul treason if Maelsenaigh had a part, he too is fallen. As for 
Maelcróin — rare as the gold is, I would give it to have the ruthless slaying 
of him." 

This done they lifted Cellach's body to Dromore, that is 
called Turlach now; but for Guaire's fear [that was on them] 
they of the Turlach would not suffer that it should be laid with 
them. They came to Liscallan ; but the familia of Killcallan, 
as dreading Guaire, endured not to have him laid with them. 
Cuchongeilt being vexed at this said that he would be avenged 
on them for their denial ; nor were they gone far from the church 
when they beheld the same ablaze with fire (fire fallen from 
heaven) that flamed on high, and in combustion because they 
yielded not to take in Cellach's body. Since which time there 
is not any human inhabiting of the spot 

They being yet there saw towards them two wild deer with a 
wain, which with great effort they drew between them till they 
came abreast of the body. Amid that company the stags laid 
their bier upon the ground, and to all of them that which they 
saw enacted thus seemed passing strange ; but at the miracle 

62 S. Cellach of Killala. 

which for holy Cellach's sake was wrought by God they were 
rejoiced exceedingly. On the bier which the two stags had 
borne they laid the corpse, then moved it on until they gained 
the Eskers in the west ; there they perceived a church with a 
cell contiguous, at which cell's door the deer laid the body 
from them and the church-bells pealed of themselves. The 
clergy, being come forth and standing over the body, enquired 
whose it might be ; and when they learned it, for his soul's rest 
they sang the psalms with zeal. A be^^ of angels likewise, 
coming down from Heaven, did honour to his soul and to his 
place of sepulture on earth. Farther : the same deer came daily 
and, like the oxen, ploughed. Their ploughing done, at noon 
then they frequented Cellach's tomb to lick it. Now came 
Cuchongeilt and, standing at his brother's grave, said : — 

''After my brother that cherished me, sorrowing and wretched I stand 
here* ; from the day in which Eoghan's son ceased to live, no more I seek 
his dwelling-place. To him that shewed this treason shall be evil, and his 
high abode be but a desert ailer him ; he that in the eastward butchered 
thee, upon the DeviPs black flagstones he shall lie. Woe to him that reposes 
trust in them to go into their house, or that confides in the children of Cobthach's 
son Colman ; the deed procured by Guaire shall subject him to woe of misery 

Out of every airt in Connacht they that had loved Cellach 

and had been friends to him gathered themselves to Cuchongeilt 

now, so that in one spot they were in number three hundred 

armed men together. He, seeing that against Guaire he might 

not as yet find favourable path of war, was resolved that he 

would go to Marcan king of Hy-Many and of Medraighe ; from 

whom accordingly he had [guarantee of] protection against all 

Ireland. Cuchongeilt struck his hand in his, and for twelve 

months Marcan billeted his people ; Cuchongeilt himself for that 

space of time being in Marcan's house, and with great honour 

shewn him. But now, the year run out, Marcan said to him : 

"to-morrow, Cuchongeilt, depart; yet is not churlishness the 

cause that this is said to thee, but that on Guaire we may not 

presume so far as to retain thee longer by us ;" and Marcan 

uttered : — 

" Thy visit to my house, Cuchongeilt son of Eoghan, hath been good ; O 
yellow-haired Eoghan's son, thine increase swelleth as a flood ! At morning's 
prime to-morrow go on thy way bravely, and for a year abide with them — 
yn^ Aedh Sláine's noble sons. Prosperous be the path thou takest, O 

S. Ce/ZacA of Killala. 63 

son of Eoghan, generous one ! from Marcan's house propitious progress have 
thou, so shall thy journey's end be good." 

Eastward over Shannon they held their course : three hundred 
men all told ; and on to Tara where Dermot was, and Bláthmac, 
Aedh Sláine's sons, and they found welcome. Cuchongeilt's 
folk were quartered abroad over the tuatha of Bregia ; while he 
and a part of his confidentials were of Bláthmac's own companion- 
ship, and high in honour. Now Bláthmac had a haughty spinster 
daughter (Aife by name) betwixt whom and Cuchongeilt a 
wooing-match began : either to other gave a mighty love, and 
they were very few that at the time had any inkling of the court- 
ship. But Cuchongeilt chancing of a day to play chess [with 
Bláthmac] and the game going hard against him, the daughter 
came and, standing over her father, to his disadvantage prompted 
the other to a move. Bláthmac scanning her keenly said : ''thou 
art zealous to prompt against me, daughter, and the game hast 
taken from me; truly between thee and Cuchongeilt there is 
friendship." She made answer: "nor seek I to conceal it." 
" Wherefore then, seeing thou acknowledgest the thing, sought 
ye not my license?" Cuchongeilt said : "as yet we have done 
no wrong, nor, but by thy leave, will act at alL" " That being so 
I will not come betwixt you and your love, but (many as be 
they that seek her) will give her to thee : I hold thee to be a 
son-in-law sufficient for me." The wedding-feast was held that 
night ; they slept together, and between them for a space all was 
well ; until one night, Aife and Cuchongeilt discoursing gently, 
she said to him : " brave though thy bodily presence be, and thy 
renown, yet that thy valour is so poor, thy hardihood so puny, is 
a great defect in thee." "Whence hast thou that?" he asked, 
" From thy negligence to exact vengeance of them that slew thy 
brother." "Thy speech is good, young woman," he rejoined, 
and then conceived shame for that which his wife had uttered to 
him. Cuchongeilt being early risen on the morrow sent to his 
people a privy message ; out of all quarters they flocked in to 
him and, he surrounded by them thus, they marched out of the 
town. With the design to stay him, Bláthmac and all the gentles 
of the fort were there ; yet would not Cuchongeilt even to do him 
pleasure halt In Aife this bred woful grief, and on all men 
she enjoined that they should hinder him of setting forth : " for 

64 S. Cellach of Killala. 



if Connacht's women see him they will love him, and never shall 
I see him more." Then, when she might not restrain him, her 
heart was heavy to her and she indited : — 

" Matter of g^ef is that which I spoke : I have reproached a crimeless 
man ; 'tis not God's Son [but mine own petulance] that hath sent Eoghan's 
son to roam. Straightway then sorrow filled me, my strength no more shall 
know increase ; rather than abide in Bregia I would depart to follow after 
Cuchongeilt The man of challenges — prize-taker in all conventions — I fear 
for him ; [fear] that, even though by a circuit he reach his country, to Guaire's 
snares he must be obnoxious still. Pleasure I will no more practise — sorrow 
[henceforth] hath all my heart ; to me my death undoubtedly is nearer than 
to another is [mere] debility of sickness. Alas that ever he came to Tara : 
he that to maidens is gentle and benign ; and readily as he sets out now for 
Guaire's country, the time will come when he shall know repentance. 

Touching Cuchongeilt and his : westwards they travelled 
athwart the tuatha of Bregia and of Meath, over Shannon, 
through Connacht, and so into Tirawley: his very own and 
proper lands, where straightway their plight was one of hardship ; 
for their numbers were such that they might not shift to hide 
themselves, and no meat at hand. Cuchongeilt headed for a 
house known to him of yore in glenn mac ú-Arann in the west, 
into which house that night they fitted all ; and in it Cuchon- 
geilt left them while he went out alone to scour the country. 
He was not gone far when there he saw a mighty herd of swine, 
and considered them until he spied a lusty and a weighty hog ; 
then propelled a javelin into him, and so killed him. Now came 
the swineherd running to him, and enquired : '' man, wherefore 
hast thou killed the swine that was not thine?" "A longing to 
slay him that came over me, for I hunger," Cuchongeilt answered ; 
but the swineherd said : " the deed that thou hast done will breed 
thee penitence yet" "Step now this way awhile and let us 
speak together," said Cuchongeilt, whom the young man for his 
part sought to shun, but could not compass it He being then 
in Cuchongeilt's power, this latter questioned him : " whose are 
these swine? is he of this country that owns them ?" The swine- 
herd answered : " if thou be indeed of Connacht's province, 
strange it seems to me thou knowest not the four whose is 
this land : Maelcróin, Maeldálua, Maelsenaigh and Macdeoraidh, 
condisciples four to Cellach son of Eoghan Bel ; for all in general 
have heard how by him this country was made over to them." 

S. Cellack of Killala. 65 

" Thy words are true," Cuchongeilt said ; but he, the swineherd, 
stood and with scrutiny examined him. " Why starest thou at 
me so?'* "If I be right, and long as it is since last I looked on 
thee, thou art Eoghan Bel's son Cuchongeilt" " The recognition 
is a sure one," assented Cuchongeilt, round about whose neck 
the young man clasped his arms and kissed him thrice; then 
asked: "and know'st thou me?" "Not as yet" "I am that 
little boy whom thou wert wont to see with thine own brother 
Cellach ; and God I thank that to me first of all men in this 
country he hath guided thee. But hast thou a company ? hast 
thou people?" "I have so; in quest of flesh for whom I am 
come hither." "What is their number?" "Three hundred that 
as one man are skilled in arms, and valiant." " And for whom a 
hog is all too little," said the herd : " but lead them to me hither, 
that of the swine they may e'en take a night's sufficiency for 
alL Henceforth I am of thy part, and am he that for the time 
to come will guide thee in this land, and will deliver it into thy 
hand, and instruct thee how thou shalt reach the four that slew 
Cellach thy brother ; for they are in Dun fidhne where newly 
they have made a fort with four doors to it, a door for every 
man of them : Maeldálua, Maelsenaigh, Maelcróin, and Mac- 
deoraidh ; whom up to this day their Irachts have opposed. 
For this their fort's inauguration then I will convey to them the 
swine, and take likewise a store of rushes ; none the less kill of 
the porkers so many as shall seem sufficient" Cuchongeilt 
answered : " I will go with thee ; and thy load of rushes, 'tis I 
will carry it" " I am well pleased," said the herd. 

Away they went then, but previously Cuchongeilt bade his 
people (their meal well finished) follow after him ; first they must 
let the night grow dark upon them, and then (but by lone and 
tangled paths) on to Dun fidhne. The swineherd with his hogs 
made for the dún^ Cuchongeilt being his companion : with his 
rush-load on his back, his weapons girt about him and well hidden 
in his clothes. To such as questioned him : " who's that under 
the load ?" the herd would answer : " 'tis a fellow-herd of mine." 
Day being ended now, Cuchongeilt's people [marched, and in 
time] attained the fort's vicinity, where as yet none of the 
swine were slaughtered. Inside the company carousing were in 
highest glee ; and for himself and for his people each man of the 


66 S. Cellach of Killala. 

four that occupied the fort had an especial door. Cuchongeilt 

(having about him raiment of the swineherd and accompanied 

by him) entered into the dún^ and on the floor cast down his 

bundle; then in the midst of the building and among the 

ministers of the feast they sate them down. Into Cuchongeilt's 

hand the swineherd thrust a golden drinking-horn ; he drank a 

draught out of it, and then throughout the dwelling studied his 

foes curiously. He said to the swineherd : "forth of this house 

I issue not to-night ; but depart thou and fetch our people, bring 

them, for these all are foolish now and merely drunken." Even 

as Cuchongeilt charged him, so the herd went away ; and back 

to the fort led the others, who as they came up were never 

marked at all till at the four doors at once they stormed into the 

fort. On the spot were taken the four that once slew Cellach 

son of Eoghan : Maelcróin, Maeldálua, Maelsenaigh, and Mac- 

deoraidh, round about whom their confidentials all were slain ; 

but to the general it was proclaimed that they should continue 

in their several carousing seats, seeing that all were friends to 

Cuchongeilt Up and down among them he and his people sate 

after their enemies destroyed, and until morning drank and made 

merry with them. At early morn they rose from the banquet, 

and westwards through the country carried off the four in bonds : 

past (but not very far past) he turscair^ with their right hand 

to the sea-resounding Moy. Thither four posts, long and thick, 

were brought to them ; the four were laid on these and, they 

being yet alive, their limbs lopped from them. The trunks were 

hung up then, and they so choked to death ; whence ard na 

ria^h is ever since the designation of that place : as one said : — 

" Opportune are these executions, O Cuchongeilt son of Eogan ! of Mael- 
dálua, of Maelcróin, of Maelsenaigh, and of Macdeoraidh. Death violent 
and mutilating and untimely, and the hanging up then of their carcases — my 
God 'tis blithe to speak of it, for torment was their rightful due. Long shall 
their shame endure to them, aye, until advent of stroke-dealing Doom ; their 
souls are with the Devil, and to strangle them was opportune." 

The four being hanged by them thus, Cuchongeilt entered 

into Hy-Fiachrach's land and (after many of his people slain) 

assumed power over them and took their pledges [hostages]. 

Henceforth his generosity's and his valour's fame increased 

mightily, and, great as Guaire was, to them of all arts and sciences 

throughout Ireland Cuchongeilt was dearer yet than he. Over 

S. Cellach of Killala. 67 

Tirawley and Hy-Fiachrach of the North he there and then 
made himself supreme ; while in the south Guaire was lord of 
Hy-Fiachrach Aidhne. Between the two conflict of war broke 
out forthwith, nor were it feasible to set forth all violence and 
evil that by Cuchongeilt was executed upon Guaire: in fine, 
between them both it wanted but little of both Irachts' extinction, 
or even of the whole province brought to an end. 

Now Guaire's daughter Gelghéís was so that she was deep in 
love with Cuchongeilt, for which love's sake she ever had refused to 
lie with man. They [the two kings] being wearied with the war, 
Cuchongeilt pressed Guaire for his daughter : whom Guaire how- 
ever would by no means yield to give him. Howbeit his people 
(to the end the war should cease) beseeching Guaire instantly, he 
consented; but on these conditions: himself to make the wedding- 
feast, and Cuchongeilt to come to his house. Cuchongeilt would not 
in any wise agree to this, so that for a g^eat while they made war 
on one another still, and up to such time as Guaire (in order to 
please the great bulk of his people) must needs make peace. He 
then thus wearied out, Gelghéis was made over to Cuchongeilt and 
things went lovingly between them ; his generous reputation at 
this time standing high in Ireland. But, though he was placable 
to Guaire's folk, the churches of his land he desolated ever, which 
in Guaire's sight was an evil thing. Therefore the treason that 
Guaire put in practice was this : to seek the spot where just then 
Kieran of Clonmacnoise was with his clergy ; whom he would 
enjoin to go and (in order to their mutual peace and amity) 
bring back Cuchongeilt ; in Kieran's mouth also was put a pro- 
mise to Cuchongeilt : that would be but come into Guaire's house 
he should unopposed be chief of his own country. Kieran 
found Cuchongeilt accordingly, and strenuously exhorted him 
not to let slip the power of Connacht : what though he must 
adventure himself with Guaire? Gelghéis as well persuading 
him ; for well she knew that Kieran nursed no treachery, nor 
could she surmise that Guaire would deal guilefully with the 
saint Against his natural propensity Cuchongeilt [in the end] 
consented to bear Kieran company thither (they also being many 
that entreated him to it) and he uttered : — 

"Although I be escorted with a hundred, yet loath I am to set out on the 
way ; but come I back, or come back not, it is more befitting that I go. An 

F 2 

68 5. Cellach of Killala. 

evil vision I have seen : that swine of Colman's son tore me ; for me (should 
the dream prove a true one) the matter will have ill event. An evil vision I 
have seen : that SMrine of Colnian's son rent me ; but though thereby I get my 
death, yet will I not be slack to visit him." 

Here Cuchongeilt's death is not forthcoming, but. that is not 
purposely on our part {scribes note) : — 

With a company of which Cuchongeilt too was one, Kieran 
came to Dúrlas Guaire^ where for three nights they were 
ministered to and cared for ; and then in Kieran's presence a 
bond of peace between Guaire and Cuchongeilt was entered into. 
But Kieran having now left the town, what Guaire plotted was 
to execute a parricidal deed on his kinsman, on his son-in-law, 
and on a foremost saint of Ireland. In Dúrlas Guaire therefore, 
and by Guaire son of Colman son of Eochaidh, was wrought out 
a design following which Eogan Bel's son Cuchongeilt was there 
and then put to death as one said : — 

^od having permitted it, Eoghan's dwelling-place is void to-night ; whe- 
ther of timber or of stone, no house is sprung up there ; a lonely wilderness 
it shall be ever. A protector of women and of children the unconquered 
hero-warrior was — a leader of armed bands, of bardic companies — well might 
all men obey him. He was good to serve his friends* necessity — of largesse 
to the poets he was prodigal — no ale-drinker in backward houses. At all 
times he desired music of the strings — the cry of hounds was melody to him 
— in a great mead-carousing company he had delight, nor e'er consented to 
a feast in islands. When first the mother happily brought forth Olioll's 
grandson Eoghan Bel, the mouth [i.e. the acclamation] of every country 
round about welcomed the little blue-eyed thing. Therefore it was that (as 
I now proclaim) the name of Eoghan Bel adhered to him; to Connacht's 
favourite, and to Fiachra's grandson of the flowing hair, the suffrage of all 
chiefs was given. With sixteen years completed the stripling's bulk sufficed 
him ; and upon Hy-Fiachrach thenceforth no man adventured raid or robbery. 
His mind inclined to Meath, the portion of Flann's son — his right hand was 
towards Brendan's fertile rath — his 'smooth side' [i.e. his amity] towards 
Cruachan of poetic companies — his * rough side' [i.e. his enmity] turned to 
them of Oriel. He revelled in the attack made to enforce his tribute upon 
Oriel's noble men — in despoiling of Eoghan's seed, and in checking of their 
federation. Never was he the man to be a single month — nor at any time 
was he so long actually -without a progress, whether by land or else by sea, 
to plunder Conall's progeny. Yonside of Assaroe upon a time (and a gallant 
rush it was) eastward or westward Eoghan left not with Ulster a single cow 
that he brought not into Connacht. Fury fell on Niall's noble children, 
dwelling and martial rage occupied them ; from the dark Drowes to Kesh- 
corann of the hazel woods they laid all waste. At which time Eoghan's 
strength was but a small part of his people : there where he was (with horses 

5*. Cellach of Killala. 69 

and with hounds, with langorous women) in the high burg of Olioirs grand- 
son. He (seeing his country*s preys driven past him on their way) like a 
mighty and a raging bull went into them [Ulster], encountered them. From 
the children of Niall he rends their prey, but he, Hy-Fiachrach's king, him- 
self is wounded ; then having reached his own house dies, and desert isEoghan's 
home to-night. Desert is gentle Cellach's dwelling too, home of him that 
by point of weapon mangled lies ; Eoghan's son being beyond all controversy 
dead, the churches of Connacht are perished away. Gentle Cellach's dwell- 
ing-place is desert, he being torn by weapon's points Desert 

Cuchongeilt's habitation is, home of one to whom whole countries gave great 

love He whom the Moy did most affect : [alas] that by 

Guaire's violence he should be fallen ! alas for her whom 'twas his fate to 
love, woe that he ever gave ear to Gelghéis ! Had Kieran but known all, 
ne'er had he found the death he met — had Brendan of pure piety but known 

it, or mac Duach Until for a spell he had denied them first, 

[to Guaire's house] he went not with the company — went not till for a time 
they perpetrated fasting on him, and a three days' abstinence from meat. 
To Eoghan's most comely son said Gelghéis of the blooming cheek : " and 
wouldst thou then deal treasonably with the honour of Ireland's exalted 
saints "i Hadst thou to Guaire but given up Dúrlas and the level marshland 
of the Moy, thou hadst not needed now to go into his house with guarantee 
of saint or nemhed. Wit and wisdom are not equal — not equal age and 
hardihood — gentleness and affection are not equal in you and in clan- 
Colman." Cuchongeilt of the conventions answered ; " since ye desire it, and 
to do you pleasure, to the many-retinued house of Colman's son I will repair." 
The clergy and Cuchongeilt in haste equipped them and, Cuchongeilt lead- 
ing, held straight course to D&rlas, Though Kieran of Cluain were a man 
prone to wrath, and potent as were Brendan's miracles : yet never a look Col- 
man's son, the destroyer, cast on that perfect band of clerks to heed them. 
Then in both low places and high they [of Dúrlas] wreak the slaughter ; 
so that at long-haired clan-Colman's hands Cuchongeilt, as was ordained, 
perished. Without reprieve they banned him then, those saints cursed mur- 
derous Guaire : his life, his death, they blighted both, so that this spot is void 
and desert. 

70 Aedh Baclamh. 

A Story of Aedh Baclamh. 

Aedh Baclamh, spear-bearer of Cerbhall's son Dermot [the 
Icing] : a fit of heavy sickness took him, and for a year he was 
in a wasting of continued illness ; but recovered health then and 
went to confer with Dermot, to whom he said : " for this year 
past that I am lying down, how goes the order of thy discipline 
and peace ? " Dermot said : " I perceive not any imminution 
that it suffers." " There is a thing whereby I will discover that," 
said Aedh Baclamh : " I carrying thy spear laid crosswise in the 
bend of both my arms will traverse Ireland obliquely, west and 
south about, until I reach the door of every liss in Ireland, and 
over their thresholds carry in the spear transversely ; so shall the 
regimen and peace of Ireland be ascertained." 

From Tara therefore Aedh Baclamh (and with him the king 
of Ireland's herald to proclaim Ireland's peace) arrived in the 
province of Connacht, where he made his way to the mansion of 
Aedh Guaire of Kinelfechin in Hy-Many. He [at the time] was 
so that round about his fortalice he had a stockade of red oak, 
and had a new house too that was but just built, with a view to 
his wife's marriage-feast Now a week before Aedh Baclamh's 
arrival the other had heard that he was on his way to him, and 
enjoined to make an opening before him in the palisade [but not 
in the dwelling]. 

Aedh Baclamh came accordingly, and Aedh Guaire gave him 
welcome. Aedh Baclamh said that the house must be hewn 
[open to the right width] before him. " Give thine own orders 
according as it may please thee to have it hewn," Aedh Guaire 
said, and (even as he uttered) dealt him a sword-stroke and so 
took off his head. 

Now in this time the discipline of Ireland was such that, who- 
soever killed a man void of offence, nor cattle nor other valuable 
consideration might be taken in lieu of him [the slain] but, 
unless only the king of Ireland should ordain or else permit 
such to be accepted for him, he [the slayer] must himself be put 
to death. 

Aedh Baclamh, 7 1 

When Dermot had heard of the killing he sent his young 
men and his executive to waste and to spoil Aedh Guaire : 
who fled to bishop Senan, for it was the one mother they had. 
Senan the bishop again goes with him to Ruadhan of Lorrha, for 
it was two sisters to Ruadhan that had nursed bishop Senan : 
Cael and Ruadhnait were their names. Aedh Guaire found no 
sanctuary with Ruadhan, however, but was banished away into 
Britain, where he was for a year ; and thither Dermot's people 
came to demand him, so that again he was sent to Ruadhan. 
Dermot came himself to Ruadhan to require him, but the saint 
had him put into a hole of the earth which to-day is called poll 
Ruadháin, i.e. * Ruadhan's Pit' Dermot sent his lad to ransack 
Ruadhan's kitchen to see whether Aedh Guaire were in it but, 
the lad being entered into the kitchen, his eyes were blinded 
presently. When Dermot saw him so, he in his turn went into 
the kitchen ; but found not Aedh Guaire there, and asked 
Ruadhan where he was (for he opined that Ruadhan would not 
tell a lie). Ruadhan answered : " I know not, unless that he be 
under yon thatch." 

Dermot returns home now ; but on the way remembers the 
cleric's word and so turns back again, goes into the reclusorium, 
and sees a candle being carried to the place in which is Aedh 
Guaire : to fetch whom he sends yet another that is a confidential 
lad to him (Donnan Donn was the lad's name) and he excavates 
the place of hiding, but the arm that he extends to take Aedh 
withers up to the shoulder ; whereupon he makes obeisance to 
Ruadhan, they both [i.e. he and his fellow that was blinded] 
remain with him, and from that time to this are in PoUruane. 
Then Dermot carries off Aedh Guaire to Tara. 

Ruadhan repairs to the elder Brendan, of Birr, and to Ireland's 
twelve apostles ; they both [accompanied by the rest] follow 
Dermot to Tara, and that night fast upon him ; while he, relying 
on his kingly quality and on the justice of his cause, fasts on 
them (in which night the sons of * Tara's twelve Pillars,' that 
were with the king's steward, died ; but on the morrow, the 
steward adjuring him to it in God's name, Ruadhan brings them 
to life again). 

In such fashion, and to the end of a year, they continued before 
Tara under Ruadhan's tent, exposed to weather and to wet; 

72 Aedh Baclamk. 

they [i.e. either party] being every second night without food : 
Dermot and the clergy, that fasted on each other. 

Where [the other] Brendan (Finnlogh's son) was at the time 
was in exploration of the sea, in quest of the Promised Land ; 
and an angel showed him that Ireland's twelve apostles were 
before Tara, contending with the king of Erin, who had just 
done violence to Ruadhan. Brendan came from the sea now 
and landed at dun Rosarach, where he abode that night and 
then blessed the dun, Howbeit, whenever Dermot heard of 
Brendan's arrival, and how he came to succour the saints and 
clergy, great fear took him ; in so much that he said to the 
saints : " were ye to give me fifty horses, blue-eyed and with 
golden bridles, I would yield you up Aedh Guaire." This came 
to Brendan's ears ; he summons fifty seals, turns them into the 
forms of [so many] horses, and drives them before him to the 
green of Tara. Then it was that the clergy and all Tara's host 
welcomed Brendan, who fell to narrate to them all the hardship 
of the sea ; and to the hosts of Tara Brendan's utterance was 
sweet. He enquired of Dermot whether in lieu of Aedh Guaire 
he would accept cattle or other consideration. " I will accept," 
Dermot said, " yon fifty blue-eyed horses ; but on condition that 
one shall guarantee them to me for a year and a quarter." So 
the horses were made over to Dermot, and the cleric went 
security for them for that time. [Which being now run out] the 
horses one day raced on Tara's green, and the riders Qudging 
their speed to be insufficient) plied them with their horse-rods, 
at which they became frantic ; nor could a pull be got at them 
before they, taking their riders with them, dived into [lit * put 
their heads under '] the sea, and both parties of them, [men and 
horses] were turned into seals. Dermot was wroth at this, wenf 
into Tara, and Tara's seven lisses were shut on him to the end 
the clergy should not enter into Tara, and lest therein they 
should leave malevolence and evil bequests. 

Then meat and ale were given them ; and people were assigned 
to wait on them, also to keep watch and ward over them until in 
their presence the clergy should have veritably and effectively 
accomplished the act of consuming and of eating. But that 
night Brendan counselled them thus : their hoods to be about 
their heads, and they to let their meat and drink pass their lips 


Aedh Baclamh. 73 

down into the bosoms of their frocks and so to the ground, which 
they did. It was reported to the king that the clergy partook 
heartily of meat and liquor ; he therefore ate meat that night, 
while in the same the clergy fasted on him by stratagem. 

Now Dermot's wife (Mughain the woman was) saw a dream, 
which <iream was this: that upon Tara's green was a vast and 
wide-foliaged tree, and eleven slaves hewing at it ; but every chip 
that they knocked from it would return into its place again and 
there adhere [i.e. be incorporated as before] instantly, till at last 
there came one man that dealt the tree but a stroke, and with 
that single cut laid it low; and the poet pronounced a lay: — 

The wife of Tara's king of the heavy torques beheld an evil dream . . . 

As for Dermot son of Cerbhall : after that dream he rose early, 
so that he heard the clergy chant their psalms, and he entered 
into the house in which they were. "Alas," he said, "for the 
iniquitous contest that ye have waged against me : seeing it is 
Ireland's good that I pursue, and to preserve her discipline and 
royal right; but 'tis Ireland's 'unpeace' and murderousness that ye 
endeavour after. For God himself it is that on such or such an 
one confers the orders of prince, of righteous ruler, and of equi- 
table judgment, to the end he shall maintain his truthfulness, his 
princely quality, and his governance. Now that to which a king 
is bound is to have mercy coupled with stringency of law, and 
peace maintained in the tuatha^ and pledges [hostages] in fetters; 
to succour the wretched, but to overwhelm enemies ; and to 
banish falsehood, for unless on this hither side one do the King 
of Heaven's will, no excuse is accepted from him yonder. And 
thou, Rua(}han," said Dermot : " through thee it is that injury and 
rending of my sway, and of mine integrity to Godward, is come 
about ; and I pray God that thy diocese be the first in Ireland 
that shall be renounced, and thy church-lands the first that shall 
be impugned." Ruadhan retorted: "rather may thy dynasty 
come to nought, and none that is son or grandson [i.e. lineal 
descendant] to thee establish himself in Tara for ever." Dermot 
said : "be thy church desolate continually.'^ Ruadhan said : "deso- 
late be Tara for ever and for ever." Dermot said : " may a limb 
of thy limbs be wanting from thee that it accompany thee not 
under ground, and mayest thou moreover lack an eye." " Have 
thou before death an evil face [i.e. a repulsive aspect] in sight of 

74 Aedh Baclamh. 

«ill ; may thine enemies prevail over thee mightily ; and the thigh 
that thou liftedst not before me to stand up, be the same mangled 
into pieces." Dermot said : "the subject-matter anent which our 
contention is [Le. Aedh Guaire] take ye away with you ; but in thy 
church, Ruadhan, may the alarm-cry sound at nones always, and 
even though all Ireland be at peace be thy church's precinct a 
scene of war continuously." And from that time to this the same 
is fulfilled. 

Upon Dermot then came great repentance for having pitted 
his wrath against the clergy, and he uttered this lay below: — 
Woe to him that with the clergy of the churches battle joins . . . 

Cerbhairs son Dermot was once upon a time, and the official 
panegyrists lauded the king, his peace, and all his excellent ways. 

Black Aedh son of Araidhe was there, in front of Beg mac Dé 
(now Dermot it was that had slain Araidhe of Ulster, but had 
* taken to bring up his son Black Aedh). Beg dixit : " I see the 
valiant wolf-dog that shall spoil the brilliant mansion." " Beg," 
said Aedh, " what hound is that ? " " It might chance to be thy- 
self." "Why how should that be?" asked Dermot "Easily 
enough : this hand of Black Aedh's it is that in the house of 
Banbhan and of Bainbhsech [his wife] shall to thy lips administer 
a poisonous draught, there being about thee at the same time a 
shirt woven of flax grown from one seed, and a mantle of a single 
sheep's wool ; in thy horn ; ale brewed from one grain of com ; 
and on thy dish : bacon of a pig that never was farrowed." Dermot 
said : " so long as I am alive he [Black Aedh] shall not be in 
Ireland." All cried out : " kiU him I " "Nay," said Dermot, "but 
he shall be expelled out of Irdand." So Black Aedh is banished 
into the land of Scotland. 

Dermot was one day that he saw a warrior enter into the 
house to him : " whence art thou come ? " he asked. " Not from 
any great distance [the new-comer answered] ; come that thou 
unayest pass a night with me as my guest." "Good," quoth Dermot, 
"say so much to Mughain." She replied: "so long as I am alive 
upon no invitation go I." For all that they [the rest of them] 
accompany Banbhan [for he it was] to Rath Bhig^ in which (after 
they were set down) they saw on the floor of the house apart a 

Aedh Bculamh. 75 

gentle and a beautiful young woman [chained] with a bundle of 
excellent apparel. " Whence the woman ?" enquired Dermot "A 
daughter to me she is/' said Banbhan : *^ good now, woman/' he 
went on to his daughter, " hast thou there raiment for Dermot ? " 
"I have so/' replied the woman ; and out of the bag that she had 
drew a shirt, with a mantle, which he takes about him [i.e. puts 
on], "'Tis a good shirt," said all. "A good shirt it is, of one 
grain of flax-seed/' said Banbhan : ^ a fanciful daughter of ours is 
yonder damsel, and she it was that procured to set a single flax- 
seed of which she made a strike, and so on till eventually her sow- 
ing became a ridge." " 'Tis a good mantle/' said all. " It is good," 
Banbhan answered, "and of one sheep's wool it was made." After 
this meat and liquor were given them. " 'Tis good bacon," said 
all. "Good it is," returned Banbhan, "being as it is of the bacon 
of a porker that never was farrowed" " How so?" they asked. 
" Soon said," he answered : " certain swine that were with pig 
and they took knives to them, so that the piglings (and they 
alive) were extracted out of them and then fattened." " Good ale/' 
said all. " Good it is," said Banbhan, " though it be but a sample 
of ale from a single grain of wheat [as thus] : of a day that I 
went out to inspect the ploughing I killed a wood-pigeon ; in his 
crop was found a grain, what com [it was] was unknown ; it was 
committed to a ridge, and from it in due course there sprang a 
sicklefull, so that this is its grain and this its ale here. 

Dermot looked up after that : " the lower part of this house is 
new," said he, " but its upper part is not fresh." " It was of a 
time," Banbhan said, "when we went in currachs to take fish, 
that we saw the ridgebeam of a house [come floating] towards us 
on the sea ; and under that beam a house was built by me [i.e. I 
built a house and used that beam in the roofl" " True it is," 
said Dermot : " that is the ridgebeam of my house which I caused 
to be thrown into the sea ; and what Ireland's saints prognosti- 
cated for me was that until all these sure tokens should be [i.e. 
coincide] for me I should not have death: for which reason it was 
that I cast the beam into the sea/' Also with the same glance 
that Dermot threw at the beam he saw a small herd, red-headed, 
with white stars, that grazed ; and that was matter of prohibi- 
tion to him. " Come ye, let us go our ways out/' said Dermot. 
" By no means," quoth Suibhne's son Black Aedh [meeting him 

76 Death of King Dermot. 

in the doorway], for he was even then returned from Scotland 
whither, after [public] dishonour done him in the convention of 
Taillte, he was banished by Dermot 

The house is taken upon Dermot now, and burnt over his head ; 
he does earnest penitence, dies, and (he having thus, according as 
Brendan prognosticated to Flann of the Monastery, had punish- 
ment on this hither side) went to heaven ; as one said : — 

" Black Aedh of the imposts, Suibhne's son, was Ulidia's honourable king: 
he it was (and this is no blind darkling mystery) that slew Dermot son of 

'This is the Death of Dermot son of Fergus Cerrbeoil as 

the Book of Sligo tells it. 

It was when by Tuathal Maelgarb once Fergus Cerrbeoirs 
son Dermot was driven into banishment on loch Ree and on 
Shannon : — Now in that same time it was that Ciarán mac an 
tsaoir came to Druim tibrai (the spot where Clonmacnoise stands 
to-day) to found his monastery. With eight upon the loch 
Kieran travelled, but with twelve hundred on land. A fire is 
kindled by the clergy. 

Where Dermot in his banishment was just then was at sndmh 
dd en (that is to say : two birds that Nar son of Conall Cer- 
nach's son Finncha killed there on Eistine the Amazon's shoulder, 
whence it is named sndmh dd /«, i.e. *two birds' swimming- 
place '). Said his wizards to Dermot : " the purpose for which 
yon fire is kindled to-night is su ch that it nev er will be quenched." 
" Verily it shall be even hovrpliat the quenching"will be done]," 
Dermot said, as the boats came to Port-grenchay where Tipra 
Finghin is to-day. 

There it was that the cleric was in act to plant a church. 
" What is the work thou doest ? " Dermot asked. " To build a 
little church," Kieran answered. "That might as well be its 
name : eglais bhegy i.e. ' little church.' " " Thrust in the upright 
with me," Kieran said to Dermot, " and [as we do it] suffer my 
hand to be put over thine ; so shall thy hand and thy royal rule 
ere this time after to-morrow have been imposed on the men of 

Death of King Dermot. 7 7 

Ireland." " How will that be effected ; for Tuathal rules over 
Ireland and I am driven out ? " Kieran replied : *' that is a 
matter for God." 

Dermot's foster-brother, Maelmór ú Argata^ went [at the time 
predicted] to the place where Tuathal was, at Grellack-eilte south- 
east of Ros-ech^ and into Tuathal's breast drove a spear so that 
he left him lifeless : a deed for which Maelmór is himself killed 
presently, and hence the tale called echtra Mhaeilmkair, i.e. * the 
romance of Maelmór * (now Maelmór was of the Hy-Conall of 
Murthemny, and third foster-brother to Dermot : Luchtaof-^/A- 
fema and Enna mac ú Laighse were the others). Hereupon, 
before it was a week's end, the men of Ireland inaugurated 
Dermot king. 

By Dermot and by the men of Ireland the great congregation 
of Usnachis held now at Beltane; for at that time Ireland's 
three high gatherings were these : the congregation of Usnach, 
at Beltane ; the convention of Taillíe^ at Lammas ; the feast of 
Tara, at samhain [All- Hallows] ; and whosoever of the men of 
Ireland should have transgressed these, the same [I say] that 
should have violated this their ordinance, was guilty of death. 

From Dermot to Kieran comes a message procuring him to 
join the gathering, and the king himself proceeds to Cnoc-brecdin 
to receive him ; there he made halt to wait, whence tulach na 
comnaidhe [i.e. * hill of halting'] is denominated. Kieran repaired 
to him accordingly. " Why, how now," Dermot said : " since 
here it is that, for the first time since I by thy benediction 
attained to the kingdom, we are met now; be this stretch of 
land as it is (with its oxen and with its kine) made over to 
thee byway" of 'altar-sod.'" But in this same plain was one that 
^was an enemy to the king : Flann, son of Dima (from whom 
tulach Dhima or tulach Fhlainn is named). The king [find- 
ing himself in the neighbourhood] has Dima's house burnt, 
and within it the owner is wounded sore ; which warrior [seek- 
ing to evade the flames] gets into a bathing-vat that is in the 
dwelling, and there expires. " Right soon thou hast trans- 
gressed thy covenant," Kieran said to Dermot, "seeing that in 
the matter of the laííítRotr grantedst us thou hast already done 
us violence. í^ In any case," he went on, " nor from thyself 
nor from thy children will I take either Heaven or Earth [i.e. 

78 Death of King Dermot. 

joys of the one, temporal possessions of the other] ; but the 
violent death which he there hath gotten by thee, that shall be 
the very one which thou too shalt have : to be wounded, and 
drowned, and burnt" " Cleric," said Dermot, " I am terrified : 
thine own assessment I award thee in satisfaction of the deed." 
" Nay," the cleric answered : " the missile that I have delivered, 
by that same I may myself be hurt to death if it fall not out so." 
And hence it was that Dermot's death was indeed brought about 
as had been promised 

The two of them, king and cleric, repaired to Usnach, joined 
the congregation of the men of £rin, and there they were for 
a fortnight In which meeting a mighty thirst [i.e. drought] 
afflicted them ; so that their human were in strait peril, and their 
four-footed perished largely. Then they had recourse to Kieran, 
to find them succour. Kieran made prayer, and there came then 
a wet [i.e. rain] that in token of the miracle left twelve main 
streams in Ireland ; whence it is that Kieran is entitled to a 
general cess throughout Ireland. In presence of the men of 
Ireland there Dermot made obeisance to Kieran, and settled on 
him his own service and his children's for even 

Following which again at Lammastide Kieran was in the 
convention of Taillte^ where he worked wonders many, and 
miracles exceeding great. There too it was that this prodigy 
was operated, viz. a man that took a perjured oath : and in con- 
sequence there came a running ulcer in his neck, whereby his 
*>^ head fell off him ; so that in presence of the Men of Ireland he 
went about in the gathering and he without a head. Which 
man was the bacuc whom for a length of time (for seven years, 
that is to say) the monks had in Cluain. 

After this, for a long period Dermot reigned in Ireland ; 
neither came there in those times a king that was grander, that 
was more revered, or that in figure and in face, in wisdom, in 
speech, in royal rule, was more excellent than he. 

It was once upon a time that Dermot feasted : — Mughain, 
daughter of Concraidh mac Duach of the Eoganacht of Cashel, 
was at his ^*^— ^he that was mother of Dermot's son Aedh, 
which sam£^ edh S iame she carried at the time. They then, 
so many as had been at the carouse, stepped abroad upon the 
green to cool themselves and, as they were there, saw draw 


Death of King Dermot. 79 

near them on the sward Dermot's nephew, Suibne son of Colman 
More. A hundred riders, that was his number : dark grey 
mantles with clasps of silver wrapped one half of the troop, and 
about the other were crimson cloaks with fringes of gold and 
silver ; under one half of the band were dark grey horses, and 
white under the other ; fifty greyhounds they had with bronze 
chains on them, and all had bossy shields slung. Even as 
Suibne entered the assembly, the woman (Mughain namely) 
uttered a loud inarticulate cry that was heard throughout all 
the company. " Woman, what may this be ? " Dermot asked : 
"is it on the lad just^ome thy mind is bent?" Said Beg mac 
Dé : " thou art indeed no prophet ; but thou hast a seer." " Dis- 
cover the matter then, since thou art a prophet." " I know it," 
said Beg : " the son that the woman carries, he it is that shall 
slay yonder stripling." That was true : Aedh Slaine did [after- 
wards] kill Suibne, who left a son (Conall mac Suibne) and he 
again slew Aedh Slaine. It was concerning this that a quatrain 
was uttered : — 

^ Not aright do some of the young men cast up their accounts : it was 
Conall that slew Aedh Slaine because Aedh Slaine had slain Suibne.'' 

That is to say : Conall mac Suibne, he killed Aedh Slaine at 
Loch Sewdy ; Aedh Gustan, he in the one day slew Aedh Buie 
king of Teffia, and Aedh Róin king of Offaly in bruidhen Dackoga ; 
and this was the first fratricide of clan -Colman and of Aedh 
Slaine's seed, i.e. Aedh Slaine to kill his kinsman, Suibne son of 
Colman ; and Suibne's son Conall to kill him in lieu of it. 

Now that same Beg mac Dé, 'tis he was the best seer that 
was in his time ; he too it was that to certain three just issued 
out of Tara said a cunning thing : " good now," the three had 
said, " so hither Beg comes to us ; we will e'en say something to 
him : Beg, all hail ! " " Tis well," quoth Beg. " How long will 
there be dwellers in the fort out of which we come ? " asked the 
first man of them. "What is the river's depth?" said the second. 
" What is the thickness of bacon-fat this year ? " asked the third 
man. " Pas go tain amárach^* answered Beg. He it was that 
spoke with nine at once, and delivered them a single discourse 
that satisfied [i,e. answered and resolved] their nine discourses 
addressed to tfim. Yet again he it was that in Tara enunciated 
^to ^íonot son of Cerbhall (what time the official panegyrists 

8o Death of King DermoL 

lauded the king, his peace and his good ways) as thus : Black 
Aedh son of Suibne, i.e. son of the king of Dalaradia, was in front 
of Beg mac Dé (now it was Dermot that had slain that Suibne, 
and taken his son Aedh mac Suibne to rear), and Beg said : 
'' I see the gallant wolfdog that shall spoil the brilliant man- 
sion." "What hound is that, Beg?" asked Aedh. "A cú ruadh 
[wolf] — some c& or other — it might well be thyself," Beg replied. 
" How could that be ? " queried Dermot. " Easily said : that 
hand of Black Aedh's it is in sooth that in the house of 
Banbhan the hospitaller shall make a poisoned draught to enter 
thy mouth, there being about thee at the same time a shirt 
derived from a single flax-seed, with a mantle produced from 
a single sheep ; in thy horn : ale brewed from a single grain of 
corn ; on thy plate : bacon of a pig that never was farrowed ; while 
'tis the main beam of the house — the ridgepole — that (after thy 
foemen shall have as good as done thee to death) shall fall on 
thy head." " Black Aedh to the slaughter !" all cried out " Not 
so," said Dermot : " but be he removed forth out of Ireland, and 
so long as I live he shall not revisit it." By Dermot thereupon 
Black Aedh is in exile relegated to the land of Scotland nor, 
so long as Dermot lived, was he re-admitted into Ireland. 

Dermot*s tribute, and discipline, and law prevailed in Ireland 
generally : his stewards and his managers, also his regular soldiers 
in their billets, were throughout Ireland up and down. At this 
particular time the king's stewards and sergeants accompanied 
him into Connacht ; also the king's herald, that used to precede 
them and to make proclamation to any such house at which in 
quest of guestly entertainment they arrived. And thus it was that 
the crier heralded them, viz. to the effect that the town's gate, or 
the castle's, into which they had to pass must be demolished be- 
fore them so that Dermot's spear should pass in athwartwise ; a 
thing which (for the king's fear) there was none dared but to 
perform before them. But Diabolus — he it was that violently 
possessed [lit. 'jumped into'] the crier now to urge the following 
evil thing upon him, to the end evil greater yet should come of it 

For they came once to Aedh Guaire's house in the land of Hy- 
Many in Connacht, whose castle must needs be breached before 
them and the king's spear. Then anger took Aedh ; he slew * the 
lad of the spear ' (the crier namely) and anon, to escape Dermot, 

Death of King DennoL 8 1 

fled into the land of Muskerry and under protection of bishop 
Senach, for the bishop's mother and Aedh Guaire's were two 
sisters. Subsequently Senach the bishop brought him to Ruadh* 
an of Lorrha and committed him to his safeguard ; for two 
sisters that Ruadhan had : Cael and Ruadhnait, it was they that 
had reared bishop Senach. By Ruadhan Aedh Guaire was be- 
stowed among the Britons however, for by reason of Dermot he 
might not be anywhere in Ireland. But such was Dermot's in- 
fluence and power over others that because of him Aedh ulti- 
mately could not be either in Scotland or with the Britons ; so 
that he returned to Ireland to Ruadhan, who had him hidden 
under ground. Where Ruadhan was then was at the spot in 
which poll Ruadhdin [Le. ' Ruadhan's Pit *] is to-day. It was 
told to the king that Aedh Guaire was come to Ireland again, and 
that Ruadhan held him concealed in the earth. Then Dermot 
repaired to Ruadhan, and despatched his charioteer to recover 
Aedh Guaire from him forcibly. The young man entered into 
the sanctuary, but on the instant was deprived of his eyes. The 
king being now wroth at this, he came to Ruadhan and enquired 
of him (for he knew that Ruadhan would not tell a lie) where was 
Aedh Guaire. Ruadhan made answer: " verily I know not where 
he is, if he be not under thee even where thou art." The king de- 
parted out of the sanctuary then, nor any more heeded that which 
the cleric had said ; but in his mind afterwards he recalled to 
memory Ruadhan's utterance, and recognised that in the ground 
under him where he had stood Aedh Guaire was. He deputed 
a man of his people (Donnan was his name) to go down to Aedh, 
over whose head the same fell to dig away the earth ; but his 
arms were reft of their power presently. Thereupon he came to 
Ruadhan and made obeisance to him ; the man also that pre- 
viously was blinded made obeisance, and thenceforth they abode 
with Ruadhan : which two it is that to-day are reputed saints at 
PoUruane. Now came Dermot himself into the church and took 
Aedh Guaire out of the hole in the ground, which to-day is called 
PoUruane. By the king Aedh was brought in bonds to Tara, 
where in recompense of all his contrivance Dermot would have 
had him hanged. 

Ruadhan in the mean time had sought out Brendan of Birr for 


82 Death of King Dermot. 

the purpose of taking him with him to retrieve his protege, and 
the pair went on to Tara. There they demanded of the king to 
have him whose safety Ruadhan had guaranteed ; but Dermot 
answered that to him who should have infringed royal law the 
Church had no right to extend immunity, for that in so doing a 
violation of right both human and divine was inherent. 

The clerics chanted psalms of commination now, and rang 
their bells against the king. That night, and in the one instant, 
.died in Tara twelve sons of chiefs that were twelve in pupilage 
to the king ; whose respective guardians came to the clergy and 
with persistence exhorted them to resuscitate the youths. The 
saints prayed, and the lads were recalled to life. 

For a full year after this they anathematised Dermot and plied 
liim with miracles, he giving them back prodigy for prodigy. But 
in the long run they prevailed nothing over him until to the 
house-steward, by way of procuring him to tell the king that now 
at last the clergy partook of a refection, they made promise of 
Heaven. The house-steward went to Dermot and told him that 
the clergy ate a meal, so that in this wise [for it was not true] 
they in the matter of fasting won an advantage over him. That 
night Dermot saw a dream : that in Tara was a great tree, the 
top of which reached to the clouds of heaven and its shade over 
all Ireland. Fifty foreigners he saw (and among them two leading 
strangers) that felled the tree, but all that which they chopped 
from it was continually made good again forthwith ; they put 
him from the tree and laid it prostrate, so that it was the falling 
tree's crash that awoke him. " Even so," Dermot said : " I am 
the tree ; the foreigners that chop it are the clergy cutting short 
my life, and by them also am I fallen." 

On the morrow the king rose and went to the place where the 
clergy were : " ill have ye done," he said, " to undo my kingdom 
for that I maintained the righteous cause. At all events," he 
went on, " be thy diocese the first one that is ruined in Ireland 
and, Ruadhan, may thy monks desert thee!" The saint retorted : 
" may thy kingdom droop speedily ! " Dermot said : " thy see 
shall be empty, and swine shall root up thy churchyards." "Tara 
shall be desolate," Ruadhan said, " and therein shall no dwelling 
be for ever." Dermot said : " may shameful blemish affect thy 

Death of King Dermot. 83 

person/' and straightway one of Ruadhan's eyes burst. Ruadhan 
said : '* be thy body mangled by enemies, and thy limbs disin- 
tegrated so that they be not found in the one place.' Dermot 
said : *' may there a wild boar come that he grub up the hill on 
which thou shalt be buried, and that thy relics be scattered ; also 
at nones continually be there in thy churchyard howling of 'wild 
hounds ' [Le. wolves], and the alarm-cry every evening ; neither 
be they its own monks that shall dwell in it" Ruadhan said : 
" the knee that was not lifted in reverence before me, be not the 
same sepulchred with thy body." Then upon the royal hearth 
Ruadhan imprecated the blackness of darkness : that nevermore 
in Tara should smoke issue from roof-tree. 

Just then it was that Dermot looked at the ridgebeam. '' That 
beam is hostile to thee; that roof-tree it is that shall yet be 
hurled upon thy face as thou lookest up at it, after that by them 
from over sea thou shalt have been stricken down.** '' Cleric, take 
all thy will !" the king cried Then their prisoner is enlarged for 
them, and both parties make peace; whereupon Dermot said 
this : — 

^ Alas for him that to the clergy of the churches showeth fight ; woe to 
him that "vrould contend, with giving cut for cut ; through this— through my 
dissension and Ruadhan's — Tara shall be desolate and clean swept.'' 

He went on : " evil is that which ye have worked, clerics — 
my kingdom's ruination ; for in the latter times Ireland shall 
not be better off than at this present she will have been. But in 
any wise may it be so that bad chiefs, their heirs»apparent, and 
their men of war shall quarter themselves in your churches 
then ; and be it their own [Le. the inhabitants'] selves that in 
your houses shall pull off such people's brogues for them, ye being 
the while powerless to rid yourselves of them.'* 

The clergy (their prisoner with them) started for home, and so 
to Pollruane ; but first they perceived thirty dark-grey horses, 
super-excellent in shape, that issued from the sea and came to- 
wards them. These they presented to the king ; their running 
was tried [against his other horses] and they proved the speedier; 
but said horses then re-assumed the identical form [which they 
had worn in the sea] and so returned to the same place out of 
which at first they came. After which Dermot and the clergy 
were at peace. 

G 2 

84 Death of King Dermoid 

It was when Dermot was of a night, and he sees two draw 
near him : the one man, as he deems, wears a cleric's semblance ; 
the other one a layman's. They come up to him, take off his 
king's diadem, make of it a diadem apiece (either man of them 
having one half, for so they divide it between them), and with 
that depart from him. Dermot starts out of his sleep then, and 
tells his vision. "Just so," said Beg mac Dé and said Cairidh 
son of Finnchaemh [his mother] that was Dermot's poet : " thy 
dream's interpretation we have for thee : Thy kingdom is deter- 
mined, of thy reign there is an end, and for the future thy 
princely grasp of Ireland is cast off : division between Church and 
I^ay namely, that is what shall subsist now ; and that which thy 
royal diadem's partition forbodes is even such another apportion- 
ing of Ireland's sovereignty betwixt Church and State." He 
proceeded : " a time will come when Church shall be enslaved by 
State, and when privilege of church-lands shall not exist ; but 
they shall be obnoxious to free quartering at the hands of all. 
In lieu of this, however, evil shall overtake the State : so that 
the son, the father, the kinsman [of what degree soever], shall 
kill each other, and every man's weapon be red with another's 
blood. By perfidy of all men [fruits of] the earth shall perish, 
and mast of trees, and produce of the waters." 

Tara's festival is held by Dermot now : at the actual banquet 
Curnan (son of Aedh son of Eockaid tinnchama^ a quo siol 
Maeilruáin in Connacht) kills a man, and places himself under 
protection of Muirchertach mac Erca's two sons : í^ergus and 
Donall, who in turn put him under Columbkill's guarantee. The 
king has him slain in expiation of his misdemeanour, and Con- 
nacht turns on Dermot : impleading him for slaughter of their 
king's son Curnan. Dermot proceeds to ravage Connacht, and 
reaches cúil sibrinne hard by cúil dreimne. In order to avenge on 
Dermot his violated guarantee, Columbkill gathers clan-Neill of 
the North. Along with him Fergus and Donall (Muirchertach 
mac Erca's two sons), Ainmire son of Sedna king of Kinel- 
connell, Muiredach mac Duach, and Eockaid tirmchama's son 
Aedh, proceed into Connacht. But between the two armies 
Frechan son of Tenesan (Dermot's wizard) set up *a magic bar- 
rier,' and then it was that Columbkill uttered ; — 

" Wherefore, God, dost Thou not fend off from us . . ." 

Death of King DermoL 85 

Tuatdn (son of Dlmdn son of Sardn son of Cormac son of 
Eoghan son of Niall) comes then, capsizes the barrier and clears 
it at one jump ; but on the other side a spear meets him, enters 
him, and he is killed. Now of all ColumbkilFs people he was 
the only man whom death reached. Then Dermot is defeated. 
^^Itxs/ri féinnidh ndremaÍH,le. a case of [a barrier] opposed 
to a warrior that would not be denied," said Columbkill ; 
whence the name cat/ dreimne^ otherwise cúil dreimfhéinne^ has 

Dermot went to Tara and again said to Beg : " let me have 
certain knowledge what manner of death it is that shall carry me 
off." Beg said : " that is not matter of doubt : — 


in Beg's rath thou shalt drink a malt-drink of a single grain ; and there it iss 
that thou shalt be laid, Dermot." 

"My kingdom after me — after what fashion shall it be?" 
asked Dermot ; and then it was that Beg enunciated this : — 

" An evil world is now at hand : in which men shall be in bondage, women 
free ; mast w anting, woods smooth, blossom bad ; winds many, wet summer, 
green com ; much cattle, scant milk ; dependants burdensome in every 
country, hogs lean, chiefs wicked ; bad faith, chronic killing ; a world 
withered, raths in number. 

" These be the princes that shall succeed thee : — 

'* [The kingdom shall revolve] from Niall- to Niall, from land to land : 
a Niall by sea ; a Niall in slaying ; a Niall in fire ; a Niall to hew down in 
every night, after the wrecking of Ailech^ 

"Be our magicians brought to us," Dermot said, "that we 
ascertain whether it be the one thing that they and Beg for- 
bode for us." " He doubts me does he," says Beg ; and there- 
upon in great anger and in vindictive dudgeon goes out from 
Dermot, having after him a great crowd that begged of him 
a prophecy, and so on until he saw Columbkill that awaited 
him. He saluted him, and Columbkill said : " it is a marveU 
lous prophecy ; from God comes this great foreknowledge that 
is vouchsafed thee." "God we thank for the same," Beg an- 
swered. Columbkill enquired then : " knowest thou thine own 
death's day ? " " Cleric, I know it well," quoth Beg : " there are 
yet seven years of my life." " That is a grand thing for him 

86 Death of King Dennot 

to whom It is so done ; if indeed it be true," said Columbkill. 
" It is not true," Beg said : " there are but seven months of my 
life." " Good again, if it be true," said Columbkill. " It is not 
true," Beg said : " there are of my life but seven hours of the 
day — ^speedily let me have communion and the sacrifice !" Then 
the cleric tonsured him, gave him communion and sacrifice, 
and he went [presently] to Heaven. Now it had stood pro- 
phesied for Beg that before he attained to death he must utter 
three falsehoods [as above] ; for up to that hour he never had 
told a lie. For the same reason also it was that Columbkill 
sought him out, for he knew that in that day he had to die 

His magicians [as aforesaid] were brought to Dermot, and he 
enquired of them what manner of death he should encounter. 
•* Slaughter," said the first magician : " and 'tis a shirt grown 
from a single flax-seed, with a mantle of one sheep's wool, that 
on the night of thy death shall be about thee." " A light matter 
it is for me to evade that," Dermot said. " Drowning," said the 
second magician : " and it is ale brewed of one grain of corn 
that thou shalt despatch that night" "Burning," quoth the 
third wizard : " and bacon of swine that never was farrowed — 
that is what shall be on thy dish." Dermot said : " all this is 

Then on his regal circuit Dermot [set out and] travelled right- 
handed [i.e. south and west about] round Ireland, that is to 
say : from Tara into Leinster ; thence into Munster ; thence into 
Connacht, and athwart Ulster's province ; so that at the end of 
a year's pr(^es9 he would by santhain again reach Tara in time 
to perform his santhain-uA^ office and to meet the men of Ire- 
land at Tara's festival. 

One day then as Dermot was on this circuit, he saw a warrior 
enter the house to him and : " whence comest thou ? " he asked. 
" Not from any distance," he replied : " come along and spend 
with me a night of guestly entertainment" " Good, ' said Der- 
mot, " tell Mughain." " Not so," she answered : " so long as I 
live, never will I go on an invitation ; and if thou eat [with him], 
it is in my despite : for to go upon an invitation will [so 'tis 
prophesied] have an ill event for thee." 

Death of King Derniot. 8 ^ 

With Banbban [that bade him] Dermot goes to Rathbeg, and 
when they were set down in the house they saw a graceful 
young woman enter, with raiment that was rarely fine. " Whence 
the woman ? " Dermot queried. Banbhan made answer : " a 
daughter to me she is and, to spite Mughain because she came 
not with me, the girl shall this night be thy wife." " I am well 
pleased," quoth the king. 

Pending the preparation of meat a bed was made for them, 
and [the meal being now ready] Banbhan said : *' Well, girl, 
hast thou brought raiment for the king ? " "I have," she said, 
and handed shirt and mantle, which the king took and put on. 
" Tis a good shirt," said all. " It is one worthy of thee," said 
Banbhan, " being the shirt of one flax-seed : a fanciful girl is 
that one there, and she it was that sowed a single seed of flax 
and made a strike of it, which then became a ridge-full." " Tis 
a good mantle," cried all. " Good it is," said Banbhan : " of a 
single sheep's wool 'tis made," 

Then meat and liquor were supplied to them, and said Ban- 
bhan : " the bacon that never was farrowed is good." " How 
so ? " asked Dermot. " It was pigs that were with young : they 
took knives to them so that their piglings (and they alive) were 
extracted from them, and fattened afterwards." "Tis good 
ale ! " said all. " Good it is," said Banbhan, " ale brewed of a 
single grain of com : it was one day that I went out to survey 
my tillage, and I killed a ringdove ; in whose crop was found 
one grain, but of what cereal was unknown. It was committed 
to a ridge however, and its yield was a sickle-full. This again 
was sown, and this is its produce in the shape of ale " \lit, ' this is 
its com and its ale.'] 

After this Dermot looked upwards, and said : " the lower part 
of the house is new, but its upper-work is not recent" Banbhan 
answered : " it was once upon a time that in currachs we went 
to take fish, and we saw towards us the ridgebeam of a house that 
floated on the sea. For the curiosity of the thing I had a house 
made with it." Dermot said now : " tmthfully was Beg*s pro- 
phecy uttered ! " and with that sprang to get out. " This is thy 
way ! " said Black Aedh in the doorway, giving him at the same 
a spear in the breast that pierced him through and so broke his 

88 Aedh SláineM 

spine. Then Dermot turns back into the house ; on the outside, 
Ulster surrounds the dwelling, and the same is burnt upon them 
[that are in it]. Dermot himself [seeking refuge from the flames] 
entered the ale-vat, and anon the mansion's roof-tree fell on his 
head so that he died \liL * so that he was dead of it/] 

Thus perished the king ; and his body was consumed all but 
the head, which with his relics was carried to Clonmacnoise 
and buried in [the slope called] the claen ferta^ or otherwise 
the céite\ for there it was that he (what time he fasted in 
eglais bhegy whereby he was healed of his head-sickness after he 
had done his fasting against the saints of Ireland, his cure 
having previously been denied him) had elected to be laid. 
Concerning which death it was that this was pronounced : — 

" The spell of shelter in Rathbeg — loss of Dennot that was . . . — 
extinction of a prince — abundance of battles — alas for him that shall contrive 
his utter destruction." 

And this is the death of Dermot son of Cerbhatl (which is as 
much as to say cerrbhcUl^ i.e. ceirrbheol^ i.e. bél cerf). 


Birth of Aedh Sldine. 

Tara of the Kings : she It was that to all kings successively 
ruling Ireland was a pe(!uliar appanage ; and it was a universal 
thing for them that thither all Ireland's charges, and dues pre- 
scribed, and rents, must be brought in to them. With the men 
of Ireland too it was general that out of all airts they should 
resort to Tara in order to the holding of Tara's Feast at samhain- 
tide. For these were the two principal gatherings that they had : 
Tara's Feast at every samliain (that being the heathens' Easter) ; 
and at each lughnasa^ or * Lammas-tide,' the Convention of Taillte, 
All precepts and all enactments which in either of these festivals 
were ordained by the men of Ireland, during the whole space of 
that year none might infringe. 

In Taillte then once upon a time the Gael had an extra- 

Aedh Sláine. 89 

ordinary great convention, he that at such epoch was king of 
Ireland being Dermot son of Fergus Cerrbeol. The men of Ire- 
land were disposed along the benches of the assembly-ground : 
all of them according to precedence of ranks, of calling, of legiti* 
mate claim and, in fact, after the fashion of hitherto use and 

Now the women, with the king's two wives, had a sitting-place 
apart ; the queens that on this occasion kept Dermot company 
being Mairenn (sumamed tnael i.e. ' bald ') and Mughain, daughter 
of Conchraid son of Duach (of the men of Munster). Mughain 
bore Mairenn a great jealousy, and to a certain female jester she 
said that she would give her her own award [i.e. told her to name 
her own price] if from the other queen's head she would remove 
her headgear of gold ; for the manner of Mairenn was that she 
lacked all hair, so that a queen's head-dress it was which habitu- 
ally concealed her defect The jestress came to Mairenn there- 
fore, and began to importune her for some boon or other. The 
queen averred that she had it not to give. "Thou shalt have this 
at anyrate," said the other as from the queen's head she tore her 
casque of gold. Mairenn cried : " God and S. Kieran help me at 
this need ! " nor had an individual in the crowd so much as well 
turned his eyes on her there, when down to her very shoulders 
fell the flossy, convoluted, golden-sheeny hair which through 
Kieran's power grew on her. The whole host are astounded at 
the miracle, and well pleased that the queen is not put to shame. 
"God I invoke," cried Mairenn, "that for this thing thou be 
disgraced in presence of the men of Ireland !" which came true. 

After this Dermot frequented Mugain still, but she was barren ; 
whereby she was unhappy, for the king meditated to abandon 
her utterly. The other wives also that the king had were a grief 
to her, that they bore children : Eithne in especial, daughter of 
Brenann Dall of the conmaicne cúile talad and mother of Colman 
Mór\ and Breo, daughter of Golman mac Neman from dun 
Suane, mother of Golman Beg. So Mugain was sad for this : 
for her being without either son or daughter, and the king pur« 
posing to dismiss her. 

Finnian of magh bile [ang/. * Moville '], and bishop Aedh son 
of Bri, arrived in Bregia. The queen came to visit them, and 
began to implore the clerics that they would succour her. Finnian 

9Ó Aedh Sláine. 

and bishop Aédh blessed water, gave it to her to drink, and she 
became pregnant; but what she eventually produced from this 
promise was — a lamb. She cried: "woe is me that I should 
have borne a four-footed thing, after which I shall never be 
acceptable to any ! " " Not that it is which shall come to pass," 
said Finnian : " but such a thing, a similitude namely of the sin- 
less Lamb that was offered up for the human race, shall to thy 
womb be for a consecration." 

• Again the cleric blessed water for her, and she conceived of it; 
then bore a silvern salmon. " Woe is me for this ! " she said : 
•* for all thou doest in my behalf I am but the worse off, cleric, 
seeing that with the men of Ireland these two births will become 
matter of common notoriety ; from all which no good awaits me." 
^' Not that it is which shall take place," said the cleric : '* but the 
silvern salmon I will take, and by me a use will be made of him ;* 
in virtue of him too [///, * on the head of him '] thou shalt bring 
forth a son, and in addition bear brothers to him ; but from him 
shall kings of Ireland spring in number more than from the 
others." Mughain answered : " I am well pleased, if that thou 
sayest be but fulfilled to me ! " " Fulfilled it shall be," quoth 
the cleric. 

Then Finnian and bishop Aedh pronounced a benediction upon 
the queen and on the seed to emanate from her ; he [i.e. one of 
them] put water into his cup and gave it to the queen, who both 
drank of it and washed in it By this process she found herself 
with child and, this time, had a son : who was Aedh Sldine, A 
good offspring in sooth was that which was bom then : AedA 
Sldine, Good are his clan too in Bregia: good in respect of 
profuseness, of renown, of honour; of hardihood, of lifting tribute, 
of holding the upper hand ; of rectitude, of heroic practice, of 
brilliancy ; of dealing with church orders, of exercising hospi- 
tallers* functions, of compassionateness ; of ethics, of sagacity, of 
pride; of fame, of affection, of cordiality; of form, of good sense, 
of intelligent apprehension ; of nobility, of excellence, of splen- 
dour. For ' a golden wand laid across a plate of white bronze,' 
that is what the seed of Aedh Sláine are athwart Bregia's plain ; 

* The only additional detail furnished by the concluding lay of fourteen 
quatrains is that of this silver salmon Finnian had a reliquary and other 
sacred objects made. 

Becfola. 91 

aiid all opulence whatsoever» every grandly ordered household, 

'tis with that of Aedh Sláine that men compare it 

To commemorate which transactions, and to store them in all 

men's memory, it was that the sennachie, Flann erf* the Monastery 

namely, sang this : — 

" Mughain, daughter of Duach's son gentle Conchraid out of Desmond : 
she — ^wife of Dermot son of Cerbhall — ^without intenuission plied latge-handed 
generosity. • • •" 

The Wooing of Becfola. 

It was once upon a time when Aedh Sláine^s son Dermot 
enjoyed Ireland's royal rule, his fosterling Crimthann mac Aedh 
being with him as a pledge from them of Leinster. He and 
Crimthann his alumnus^ taking with them their various weapons 
and one single lad, went of a day to áth truim. They saw a lone 
woman in a chariot come out of the west and across the ford 
Fairer she was than any one of the whole world's women. Der- 
mot enquired: "whence art thou come, woman?** •*Not from 
far," she answered. ** What makes thee to be alone ? " •* I am 
in search of wheaten grain," said she. "Thou shalt find such 
with me," said Dermot, " We refuse it not," said the woman. 
Thereupon he conveyed her to Tara, and she shared his comfort- 
able bed. All in general enquired : "whence the woman, Dermot?" 
" I will not tell." All said again : " bee afhola^ i.é. his bride-g^ft 
to her is but small." " Be that her name," said the magicians, " i.e. 

Subsequently the woman pitched her love on Crimthann mac 
Aedh the king's pupil in lieu of Dermot, and for a long time 
persevered in soliciting of him. The young man indeed said 
that at the hour of tierce on Sunday he would proceed to cluain 
da chaillech to meet her, for the purpose of carrying her off 
surreptitiously ; but his people dissuaded him from eloping with 
the king of Ireland's wife. 

Then at early mom on Sunday she rises from Dermot " In 
what direction is the early rising, woman?" he asked. "To 
dtiain da chaillechy* she made answer. " What signifies that ? " 
The lady said: "eight smocks with embroidery of gold, eight 

92 Becfola. 

brooches fully set, and three diadems of gold that I have left in 
keeping there." Dermot said : " go not on Sunday to look for 
them ; a Sunday's journey is not good." She replied : " let there 
some come with me, for that I will go is certain." " It shall not 
be from me [that any will bear you company]," said Dermot 

Sh-i then and her handmaid went out of Tara southwards into 
the Duffry of Leinster. There they went astray and wandered 
until night, when they marked a route of wolves that drew to- 
wards them on the hill-side. To escape these she climbed into a 
tree, but her maid the wolves devoured. Not long had she been 
in the tree when in the heart of the forest she discerned a fire. 
She approached it, and saw by the fireside a young man having, 
as regards both arms and raiment, the fairest aspect in the world : 
close to whom she sits down. The young man glanced at her 
but, until he made an end of cooking a wild boar that he had in 
hand, neither spoke nor turned his face to her. So soon as of 
his swine he had made a roasted one, he washed his hands and 
from the fire went down to the loch. She followed after him. 
The young man got into his craft, she with him. They row now 
till they attain to a high-jutting pleasant island, and there enter a 
vast and beautiful palace in which they find not any man before 
them. Next they partake of diverse meats and of mead delec- 
table. The pair of them retire into the one bed, but up to next 
morning he never turned round to her nor in any wise molested 
her at all. 

When mornirtg came they heard a hail : " come out, Flann," a 
voice cried ; and certain men canie on the scene. The young 
man rises, girds on his arms [and goes out]. She repairs to the 
dwelling's door to look after him, and perceives there three that 
are of equal age, and figure, and valiance; while in another direc« 
tion she sees other four fully weaponed. Then the eight fight a 
manly and a virile fight : four of a side. He and his three rout 
the other four : but all of them (he only excepted) fall foot to 
foot, lifeless and dead, while he passes back into the fort. " Have 
good luck of thy valour," she said : " a gallant deed it is that 
thou hast done." " So it were a good deed, had it but been 
against foemen that I executed it." She enquired : " whence the 
young men ? " " Brother's sons [i.e. nephews] were those four 
that opposed me, and three brothers to me the three others." 

Becfola. 93 

*• What was that for which they strove with thee ? " He said : 
"i«/> Fedaigh mhic an daill [i.e. island of Fedach son of 
Dall*]." "And how earnest thou not to make thine own of 
me ? " " Because I art but so bad a match for thee after thine 
abandoning of Ireland's king, and that as yet the island is not 
mine Should it fall to my lot however I will go fetch thee, and 
thou, if it seem good to thee, shalt be to me for an only wife. 
But for the present revert to the king ; at the foot of the same 
tree thy handmaid is safe and sound, free of all hurt and risk, 
and I will myself convey you both to Tara." 

Then they made their way to Tara ; and when she reached 
Dermot's dwelling, there was the king rising from his bed on 
the same Sunday still. " Truly," he said, " it had not been right 
for thee in violation of God's ordinance to transgress the Sunday." 
She returned : " by no means have I done so." 

Even as they were there they saw four young ecclesiastics 
that came in. The king asked : " What hath occasioned you to 
transgress the Sunday ? " ** Injunction of our principal, Mola- 
sius of Devenish, it is that hath despatched us to thee." Then 
they gave the reason as follows : " it was a certain one of the 
familia of Devenish that early rose to turn out his kine, and he 
saw eight comely young men (well equipped with armour and 
weapon) that fought together : in which battle all slew their 
respective opponents and, saving one man alone, were killed by 
them. Then Molasius buried the other seven, who left behind 
them in our hands a two men's load of gold and silver which had 
adorned their necks, their arms, and their weapons ; and the 
wherefore that we are come to thee is that thou mayest learn 
the amount of thine own share in said treasure." The king said : 
" by no means — the treasure that God hath given to him, I will 
not interfere with him to share it ; but of that gold and of the 
silver be a reliquary and emblems fashioned with cunning work- 
manship." Which is the very thing that was effected ; for of 
that gold Molasius' shrine and his pastoral staff were formed. 

The young clerics told the king then that at the battle, and at 
the slaying of all them that fought, the queen had been present 
By this time the king was clothed, and he enjoined Becfola to 
return back again to Fledach's descendant Flann. She rose with 
alacrity and retraced her way to Flann, after which the two never 
parted more. 

94 Caenchomrac. 

Disappearance of Caenchomrac, 

A certain noble bishop that was in Clonmacnoise : Caen- 
chomrac was his name, which at first had been Mochta. He was 
a son of purity, a ' coarb ' of God ; and on a pilgrimage it was 
that he came to Cluain, where the reverence and consideration 
paid to him were great : for in the case of all such as died from 
time to time he would learn of God whether the same should 
have reward or should have torment Also to any [that desired 
it] he would in the preceding year's last quarter announce the 
year in which he should die. But the deference shown to him 
in Cluain he by-and-by deemed to be excessive ; and he came 
to inis aendainth \angL * Devenish'] in loch Ree, there to perform 
his pilgrimage ; for he took It to be suitably lonely for perform- 
ance of canonical order, for Mass and for orisons. 

Along with him in the isle was a prayerful body of monks, 
that to gather alms and firstfruits in Teffia used to wander 
abroad over the mainland ; for the men of Teffia were in great 
subservience to him : one hundred piglings, a hundred calves, a 
hundred lambs, a cake of bread for every ktieading trough, and 
for every cathair a screpall^ they yielded him on condition that 
(they being thus subject to a screpall payable to him) the num- 
ber of their slain at any one time should never exceed nine : as 
he said [once after a battle] : — 

*' My King I thank that the men of Teffia are for their land [i.e. likely to 
endure therein] : not one of them is killed. I affirm to you (and no false 
profession of amity it is) that if ye but invoke me nine only shall be your 
loss in battle." 

He added : " moreover, though they that attempt you be 

many, and ye but few, if ye but think on me ye shall come 

whole away : — 

" Nine men in Teffia's land opposed to a hundred thotisand thousands : 
let them only meditate on Caenchomrac, and to their own countries they 
shall go back safe and sound. Of this world's hosts whole bands shall not 
have the victory over them— if they but render me their service, my service 
too being to Godward." 

For a while then he had been thus in both Cluain and inis 

Caenchomrac. 95 

aendaimk [i.e. first in one» then in the other], and of a time 
when he was in the island his monks went forth as above. 
Eoghan and Ecertach, two sons of Aedhacan of Hy-Many, and 
bosom disciples of the cleric both, proceeded to Slieveleitrim in 
Hy-Many. There the clan-Fannan were : hunting in the moun- 
tain ; they had killed a goodly number of wild swine, a pigling 
of which they bestowed on the clerics. These' carried him off to 
their house and, having imposed him on a forked stick, put him 
to the fire. But as the cleric chanted his psalms he saw towards 
him a tall man that emerged out of the loch : from the bottom of 
the water that is to say. He saluted the cleric, and this latter 
him. He said : '' well would he that on a forked stick is at the 
fire have rendered thee the responses and sung psalms with 
thee." " What is this at all ? " Caenchomrac asked. The other 
answered : " soon told — ^a monastery that we have down under 
this loch (now that there should be subaqueous inhabiting of 
men is with God no harder than that they should dwell in 
any other place), and the monastery's young men mutinied : for 
which they were expelled in form of swine. These now it is 
that to-day are slaughtered in Slieveleitrim, and one of the same 
is he at the fire on a forked stick. I am his father according to 
the flesh ; here in my hand is his psalter, and on thee I confer 
it " (* the Swine's Psalter ' it was called, and for a length of time 
subsisted in Clonmacnoise ; but the name given to Eoghan was 
an banbhy or * the Pigling,* which indeed was an application of 
the term to one with a boar's mouth). Caenchomrac licensed 
the father to take him away and bury him, and he said to the 
bishop : " what hinders thee, cleric, that thou comest not with me 
to inspect the monastery that is under this loch ? " Caenchomrac 
answered : " I will go." They both dive into the loch and enter 
the monastery, where from the one canonical hour to the same 
of the following day Caenchomrac tarried. On the morrow he 
returns to his house, and he all covered with lacustrine wrack. 
He made a frequent practice of resorting to the parts beneath 
the loch ; nor from that time forth, and so long as he lived, was 
the monastery in any way veiled from him. 

On every Easter Thursday the various clerics used to resort to 
inis aendaimk^ to Caenchomrac, that he might consecrate oil for 
them. He on the other hand would perform canonical service 

96 Cormac and Finn. 

for them, give them Mass, consecrate their oil, and preach to 
them. After service and Mass on which day it was customary 
to have a banquet ; and [on this particular occasion of ours] 
ale and meat, as the habit was, is served out to the clerics. 
Caenchomrac left them, went out, and the greater part of that 
day spent away from them. Later he came back to the house 
where they dined, saluted them, and after like fashion they 
greeted him. He sees them have their dishes full of fat pork, 
and falls to chide them for eating such in Lent. He gave them 
great objurgation — anger and prodigious indignation seized him 
to the extent that for the godliness flashing in his visage they 
might not look him in the face. The clerics fled before him. 
Away from them Caenchomrac rushed abroad, and from that 
time to this has not been seen ; nor is it known whether it were 
under the loch he went to dwell in the monastery, with serv- 
ing of God, or whether it were angels that carried his soul to 
Heaven. After this the sages of the Gael never have eaten flesh 
on Maunday Thursday. 

Here is the Panegyric of ContCs son Cormac and the 
Death of Finn son of CumhalL 

A monarch, noble and worshipful, that attained to rule Ireland : 
Cormac, son of Art son of Conn of the Hundred Battles. Sub- 
sequently he reigned over her for forty years, excepting the two 
during which Ulster usurped : that is to say Fergus Black-knee 
for one year, and Eochaid Gonnat for another. Twice in fact 
the Ulidians deposed Cormac. The same Cormac too was for 
four months missing from among his people nor, until he him- 
self came back and told his adventures, was it known in what 
direction he was gone. 

To proceed : saving David's son Solomon there never was in 
the world a king that for lustre of his intellect, for opulence oi 
his reig^, might be likened to Cormac. For he never gave judg- 
ment but he had the three judicial requisites : that of a mind 
gifted with sagacity ; that of judicial precedent, and that of dai 

Cor mac and Finn. 97 

bias: As a result of which judgments' wisdom and science it was 
that in Cormac's time the calf commonly was born at the term 
of three months' gestation ; in his day a sack of wheat was pro- 
duced from every ridge; in his day the colpach'Yi<úkTs were 
already calved cows. Any river that was but knee-deep, in his 
time a salmon was got there in every one mesh of the net. In 
his time the cow had her udderful of biestings. In his time it 
was with the finger's tip that men might gather honey [as they 
walked], seeing that for the righteousness of Cormac's governance 
it was rained down from Heaven. In his time it was that vessels 
could not be had for the milk, for the kine shed their milk with- 
out cessation. 

That king was comparable to Octavius Augustus also : for 
even as to the former every one paid Caesarian [i.e. imperial] 
tribute for his patrimony ; so to Cormac likewise all men out of 
their own natural localities paid the royal rent, for Cormac never 
deprived any one of that which was his own. 

In the world there was not a king like Cormac : for he it was 
that excelled in form, in figure and in vesture ; in size, in justice 
and in equity ; in his eyes too, in either one of which were seven 
pupils, as Senuath the poet tells us when he says : — 

" Beautiful was the difference that was between them which were a varie- 
gated pair : for in the man's eyes fourteen pupils were extant.' 

He it was that in respect of sagacity, of wisdom, of eloquence, 
of action and of valour, of royal sway, of domination, of splen- 
dour, of emulation, of ethics and of race, was vigorous in his 
own time. Of Ireland he made a land of promise : she being 
then free of theft, of rapine, of violence ; exempt from all neces- 
sity of watching, of herding, and without perplexity in the matter 
of either meat or raiment to aifect any man. 

But in the way of Cormac's eulogy this [that we have said] is 
all too little ; for unless that an angel should instruct him a man 
may not declare it all. Great were his power and control over 
the men of Ireland, seeing that (unless one rendered Cormac 
military service) none of them dared abstain from work. 

Now he whom Cormac had for chief of the household and 
for stipendiary master of the hounds was Finn son of Cumhall ; 
for the primest leader that the king of Ireland had was his 
mastgr of the hounds always. 


98 Cormac and Finn. 

Warrior better than Finn never struck his hand into a chief's : 
inasmuch as for service he was a soldier, a hospitaller for hospi- 
tality, and in heroism a hero ; in fighting functions he was a 
fighting man, and in strength was a champion worthy of a king ; 
so that ever since, and from that time until this day, it is with 
Finn that every such is co-ordinated. Forby all which, Finn 
with the king's especial bands enjoyed general right and exercise 
of chase and venery throughout Ireland. 

Where Finn's abiding was mostly was in Almha of Leinster; 
but when decrepitude and old age weighed on him (Cormac also 
being now gone) he dwelt in Almha permanently; unless that 
he might have occasion to make some passing excursion out of 
it. She that was spouse to Finn was Fatha Canann's daughter, 
Smirgat ; she was a prophetess and wise woman, and had told 
him that whensoever he should drink a draught out of a horn 
that act would end his life ; so that thenceforth he never took a 
drink out of a horn, but out of cuachs [scot. * quaighs *]. 

One day Finn sallied out of Almha^ and by-and-by found 
himself in the place called adharca iuchbadh in Oflfaley; there on 
a hillside he came upon a well, out of which he took a drink. 
Under his * knowledge-tooth ' he put his thumb then, and worked 
the incantation of teinm laeghda, whereby it was revealed to him 
that the end of his term and of his life was come ; and he sang 
these quatrains following : — 

The prophecy is befallen Finn . . . 

Then he went on till he reached druim Bregh [i.e. * the Ridge 
of Bregia'], in which country existed causes of enmity to Finn 
and the Fianna ; for by him it was that Uirgrenn, of the tribe 
called the Luaighne of Tara, fell once. These gathered now, 
with Uirgrenn's three sons, and Aichlech More : son namely of 
Duibrenn, that was third man of the sons of Uirgrenn. Between 
them is fought an extraordinary and a ruthless battle, manly, 
masculine and fierce, in which all and several recalled to mind 
their grievances (whether remote or more immediately touching 
themselves) that they had the one against the other. At Brea 
upon the Boyne : that is where that battle came off; they were 
at the hand-to-hand work for a length of time, and till on both 
sides their mischiefs were very many. The fight was won against 
Finn, and he perished iq it. Duibrenn's son Aichlech : by him 

Finns People. 99 

Finn fell, and he it was that beheaded him ; wherefore in order 
to the commemoration of the deed» and to bring the ignorant 
to the way of knowledge, the sennachie sung these quatrains: — 

Brecis great battle of exploits bright • • • 

This then, according to archaeological verity and as experts 
relate it, is Finn's death ; but his origin they declare variously. 
Some of them say that he was of the corca-Oiche in ua Fidhgeinte\ 
others again assert (and this is the truth of the matter) that he 
was of the úi Tairrsigh of Offaley, which were of the Attacotti, 
as Maelmura has said in the chronicle : six stocks there are that 
shall have territorial settlement, but are not of Breogan's people, 
viz. the Garbraighe of the Suca \ the ui Tairrsigh ; the Galeoin 
of Leinster [and others]. 

They of Leinster however state that Finn was great-grandson 
to Nuada Necht, and that his pedigree is this : Finn, son of Cum- 
hall son of Sualtach son of Baeiscne son of Nuada Necht 

The above is Cormac's Panegyric and Finn's Death. 


The Enumeration of Finn's People. 

This is the enumeration [and description] of Finn's people : 
their strength was seven score and ten officers, each man of these 
having thrice nine warriors, every one bound (as was the way with 
Cuchullin in the time when he was there) to certain conditions of 
service, which were: that in satisfaction of their guarantee violated 
they must not accept material compensation ; in the matter of 
valuables or of meat must not deny any ; no single individual of 
them to fly before nine warriors. 

Of such not a man was taken into the Fianna ; nor admitted 
whether to the great Gathering of Usnach, to the Convention of 
Taillte^ or to Tara's Feast; until both his paternal and his ma- 
ternal correlatives, his tuatha and kindreds, had given securities 
for them to the effect that, though at the present instant they 
were slain, yet should no claim be urged in lieu of them : and 
this in order that to none other but to themselves alone they 

H 2 

lOo Finn's People. 

should look to avenge them. On the other hand: in case it were 
they that inflicted great mischiefs upon others, reprisals not to be 
made upon their several people. 

Of all these again not a man was taken until he were a prime 
poet versed in the twelve books of poesy. No man was taken 
till in the ground a large hole had been made (such as to reach 
the fold of his belt) and he put into it with his shield and a fore- 
arm's length of a hazel stick. Then must nine warriors, having 
nine spears, with a ten furrows' width betwixt them and him, 
assail him and in concert let fly at him. If past that guard of 
his he were hurt then, he was not received into Fianship. 

Not a man of them was taken till his hair had been interwoven 
into braids on him and he started at a run through Ireland's 
woods ; while they, seeking to wound him, followed in his wake, 
there having been between him and them but one forest bough 
by way of interval at first. Should he be overtaken, he was 
wounded and not received into the Fianna after. If his weapons 
had quivered in his hand, he was not taken. Should a branch in 
the wood have disturbed anything of his hair out of its braiding, 
neither was he taken. If he had cracked a dry stick under his 
foot [as he ran] he was not accepted. Unless that [at his full 
speed] he had both jumped a stick level with his brow, and 
stooped to pass under one even with his knee, he was not taken. 
Also, unless without slackening his pace he could with his nail 
extract a thorn from his foot, he was not taken into Fianship : 
but if he performed all this he was of Finn's people. 

A good man verily was he that had those Fianna, for he was the 
seventh king ruling Ireland : that is to say there were five kings 
of the provinces, and the king of Ireland ; he being himself the 
seventh, conjointly with the king of all Ireland. 

Finn's two poll-wards were Noenalach, and Raer grandson of 
Garb ; the two stewards of his hounds : Crimthann and Connla 
Cas ; his dispenser : Cathluan son of Crimthann ; his master of 
the banquet : Core son of Suan ; his three cupbearers : Dermot 
grandson of Duibhne, and Faillin, and Colla son of Caeilte ; 
the two overseers of his hearth : Caeilte and Glanna ; his two 
makers of the bed: AdmoU and mac Neri; his twelve musicians: 
Fergus True-mouth, Fianu, Bran, two Reidhes, Nuada, and 
Aithime Aghmar, and . , , . Flann and Aedh, Cobthach of 


The Colloquy. loi 

the high strains, and Cethern ; his physician : Lerthuile ; his two 
keepers of the vessels : Braen and Cellach Mael ; his barber : 
Scannal ; his comber : Daelgus ; his charioteer : Rinnchu ; his 
two masters of the horse : Aena and Becan ; his strong man : 
Urchraide grandson of Bregaide; his six door-keepers: Cuchaire 
and Bresal Borr, Fianchad and Mac-dd-fer^ Imchad and Aithech 
son of Aithech-bal ; his carpenter: Donngus; his smith: Collan; 
his worker in metal : Congaran ; his horn-players : Culaing and 
Cuchuailgne ; his two soothsayers : Dirinn and Mac-reith ; his 
carver : Cuinnscleo ; his candle-holder : Cudam ; his two spear* 
bearers : . . . and Uadgarb ; his shield-bearer : Railbhe, and 

so on. 




TAe Colloquy with the Ancients. 

When the battle of Comar, the battle of Gowra, and the battle 
of OUarba had been fought, and after that the Fianna for the 
most part were extinguished, the residue of them in small bands 
and in companies had dispersed throughout all Ireland, until at 
the point of time which concerns us there remained not any but 
two good warriors only of the last of the Fianna : Ossian son of 
Finn, and Caeilte son of Crunnchu son of Ronan (whose lusty 
vigour and power of spear-throwing were now dwindled down) 
and so many fighting men as with themselves made twice nine. 
These twice nine came out of the flowery-soiled bosky borders 
of Slievefuad [county Armagh] and into the lughbarta bána^ at 
this present called lughmadh \angl, * Louth *], where at the falling 
of the evening clouds that night they were melancholy, dispirited. 

Caeilte said to Ossian then : " good now, Ossian, before the 
day's end what path shall we take in quest of entertainment for 
the night?" Ossian answered : " I know not, seeing that of the 
ancients of the Fianna and of Finn's people formerly but three 
survive : I and thyself, Caeilte, with Cátnha the she-chief and she- 
custodian that, from the time when he was a boy until the day in 
which he died, kept Finn son of Cumall safe." Caeilte said : 
" we are entitled to this night's lodging and provision from her ; 
for it is not possible to rehearse nor to shew the quantity which 

I02 The Colloquy. 

Finn, captain of the Fianna, bestowed on her of precious things 
and of treasures, including the third best thing of price that Finn 
ever acquired : the Angkalach namely, or drinking-horn which 
Moriath daughter of the king of Greece gave to Finn, and Finn 
to Camha. 

With Camha therefore they got hospitality for that night ; 
their names she enquired of them and [at their sound] wept 
vehement showers of tears ; then she and they, each of the other, 
sought to have tidings. Next, they entered into the bed-house 
disposed for them, and Camha the she-chief prescribed their refec- 
tion : that the freshest of all kinds of meat and the oldest of all 
sorts of drink be given them, for she knew in what fashion such 
as they used to be fed. She knew also how much it was that 
many a time before the present had constituted a sufficiency for 
Ossian and for Caeilte. Languidly and feebly she arose and held 
. forth on the Fianna and on Finn mac Cumall ; of Ossian's son 
Oscar too she deliberated, of mac Lugach^ of the battle of Gowra 
with other matters ; and by reason of this in the end a great silence 
settled on them all. 
-v,^ Then Caeilte said : " such matters we hold now to be not more 
painful than the way in which the twice nine that we are of the 
remnant of that great and goodly fellowship must perforce part, 
and diverge from each other." Ossian answered that : " they 
being gone \lit * after them *] in me by my word, and verily, is no 
more fight nor pith." Valiant as were these warrior-men, here 
nevertheless with the she-chief — ^with Camha — they wept in gloom, 
in sadness, and dejectedly. Their adequate allowance of meat 
and of drink was given them ; they tarried there for three days 
and three nights, then bade Camha farewell, and Ossian said : — 

"Camha to-day is sorrowful: she is come to the point where she must 
swim ; Camha without either son or grandson : it is befallen her to be old 
and blighted." 

Í' 7 Forth of the town they came now, and out upon the green ; 

there they took a resolve, which was this : to separate, and this 
parting of theirs was a sundering of soul and body. Even so 
they did : for Ossian went to the sidh of ucht CUitigh^ where was 
his mother : Bldi daughter of Derc surnamed dianscothach [i.e. 
* of the forcible language *] ; while Caeilte took his way to inbher 
Bic loingsigh^ which at the present is called mainistir droichid 

The Colloquy. 103 

átha [i.c. ' the Monastery of Drogheda '] from Beg loingsech son 
of Arist that was drowned in it : the king of the Romans' son 
namely, who came to invade Ireland ; but a tidal wave drowned 
him there in his inbker^ i.e. * inver ' or estuary. He went on to 
linn Féic^ i.e. * Fiac's Pool/ on the bright-streaming Boyne ; south* 
wards over the Old Plain of Bregia, and to the rath of Drumderg 
where Patrick son of Calpum was. 

^f Just then Patrick chanted the Lord's order of the canon [i.e. 
Mass], and lauded the Creator, and pronounced benediction on 
the rath in which Finn mac Cumall had been : the rath of Drum- 
derg. The clerics saw Caeilte and his band draw near them ; 
and fear fell on them before the tall men with their huge wolf- 
dogs that accompanied them, for they were not people of one 
epoch or of one time with the clergy. 

Then Heaven's distinguished one, that pillar of dignity and 
angel on earth : Calpurn's son Patrick, apostle of the Gael, rose 
and took the aspergillum to sprinkle holy water on the great 
men ; floating over whom until that day there had been [and were 
now] a thousand legions of demons. Into the hills and * skalps,' 
into the outer borders of the region and of the country, the 
demons forthwith departed in all directions ; after which the 
enormous men sat down. 

"1^ " Good now," Patrick said to Caeilte, "what name hast thou ?" 
" I am Caeilte son of Crunnchu son of Ronan." For a long while 
the clergy marvelled greatly as they gazed on them ; for the 
largest man of them reached but to the waist, or else to the 
shoulder of any given one of the others and they sitting. Patrick 
said again : " Caeilte, I am fain to beg a boon of thee." He 
answered : " If I have but that much strength or power, it shall 
be had ; at all events, enunciate the same." " To have in our 
vicinity here a well of pure water, from which we might baptise 
the tuatha of Bregia, of Meath, and of Usnach." " Noble and 
righteous one," said Caeilte, "that I have for thee," and they 
crossing the rath's circumvallation came out; in his hand he 
took Patrick's and [in a little while] right in front of them they 
saw a loch-well, sparkling and translucid. The size and thick- 
ness of the cress and of the fothlacht^ or brooklime, that grew 
on it was a wonderment to them ; then Caeilte began to tell its 
fame and qualities, in doing of which he said : — 

I04 The Colloquy. 

^l "O Well oitráigh dá bhan^ i.e. *two women's strand,' beautiful thy cresses 

luxurious-branching, are ! since thy produce is neglected on thee, thy foth- 
lacht is not suffered to grow. Forth from thy banks thy trouts are to be seen, 
thy wild swine in thy [neighbouring] wilderness ; the deer of thy fair hunting 
cragland, thy dappled and red-chested fawns ! Thy mast all hanging on the 
branches of thy trees ; thy fish in estuaries of thy rivers ; lovely the colour of 
thy purling streams, O thou [that thyself art] azure-hued, and again green 
with reflection of surrounding copsewood I . . ." 

07 "Tis well," Patrick said: "hath our dinner and our provant 

reached us yet ?" " It has so," answered bishop Sechnall. " Dis- 
tribute it," said Patrick, "and one half give to yon nine tall 
warriors of the survivors of the Fianna." Then his bishops, and 
his priests, and his psalmodists arose and blessed the meat ; and 
of both meat and liquor they consumed their full sufficiency, yet 
so as to serve their soul's weal. 

Patrick said then : " was not he a good lord with whom ye 
were ; Finn mac Cumall that is to say ? " Upon which Caeilte 
uttered this little tribute of praise : — 

" Were but the brown leaf which the wood sheds from it gold — were but 
the white billow silver — Finn would have given it all away." 

" Who or what was it that maintained you so in your life ? " 
Patrick enquired ; and Caeilte answered : " truth that was in our 
hearts, and strength in our arms, and fulfilment in our tongues." 
.-J " Good, Caeilte," Patrick went on : " in the houses which before 

our time thou didst frequent were there drinking-horns, or cups, 
or goblets of crystal and of pale gold ? " and Caeilte answered 
that : " the number of the horns that were in my lord's house was 
as follows : — 

" Twelve drinking-horns and three hundred made of gold Finn had ; when- 
ever they came to the pouring out the quantity of liquor that they held was 

" Were it not for us an impairing of the devout life, an occasion 
of neglecting prayer, and of deserting converse with God, we as 
we talked with thee would feel the time pass quickly, warrior." 
Then Caeilte began to rehearse the drinking-horns, with the 
chiefs and lords whose they had been : — 
\ '^X " Horns that were in Finn's house, their names I bear in mind ..." 

\ \ch " Success and benediction attend thee, Caeilte," Patrick said ; 
this is to me a lightening of spirit and of mind ; and now tell us 
another tale." " I will indeed ; but say what story thou wouldst 

The Colloquy. 105 

be pleased to have." " In the Fianna had ye horses, or cavalry?" 
Caeilte answered : " we had so ; thrice fifty foals from one mare 
and a single sire." " Whence were they procured ? " "I will tell 
thee the truth of the matter : — 

" A young man that served with Finn : Arthur son of Béine 
Brit^ his complement being thrice nine men. Finn set on foot 
the hunting of Ben-Edar (which indeed turned out to be a bounti- 
ful and a fruitful hunt). They slipped their hounds accordingly, 
while Finn took his seat on cam an fhéinneda [i.e. * the Fian's 
cairn'] between Edar's eminence and the sea; there his spirit 
was gay within him when he listened to the maddened stags' 
bellowing as by the hounds of the Fianna they were killed rapidly. 

" Where Beine Brit's son Arthur was stationed was between 1 1^ 
the 'main body of the hunt and the sea in order that the deer 
should not take to the sea and elude them by swimming. But 
Arthur, being thus on the outside and close against the shore, 
marked three of Finn's hounds: Bran^ Sceolaing^ and Adnuall^ 
and he resolved on a plan, which was : himself and his three nines 
to depart away across the sea, he carrying off with him into his 
own land those same three hounds. This plot was put into action 
then ; for well I wot that they, having with them those three hounds, 
traversed the sea's surface and at inbher mara gaimiach in Briton- 
land took harbour and haven. They landed there, proceeded to 
the mountain of Lodan son of Lir, and hunted it 

" Touching the Fianna : after this occurrence they made an 
end of their hunting and of their sylvan slaughter, then camped 
at the eminence of Edgaeth's son Edar, and (as the custom was 
then) Finn's household hounds were counted. Now his hounds 
were many in number, as the poet said : — 

" An enumerating of branches [on the tree] was that of Finn's full-grown 
hounds with his sleek melodious pack of youngsters : three hundred of the 
first there were, and puppy-hounds two hundred." 

" Many men they must have been that owned those," said ' ' • 
Patrick. " True for you indeed," Caeilte answered, " for the tale 
that used to be in Finn's house was this : — 

" They that dwelt in the house of Finn were three times fifty of joyous leaders 
of the Fianna ; three hundred confidential servitors as well, and two hundred 
fosterlings that were worthy [of their chiefs]." 

" But when the hounds were told a great shortcoming was dis- 

io6 The Colloquy. 

covered in them : Bran, Sceolaing, Adnuall [were missing], and 
it was told to Finn. ' Have all three battalions of the Fianna 
searched out,' he said ; yet though the search was made were not 
the hounds found. 

" To Finn then was brought an elongated basin of pale gold ; 
he washed his kingly face, put his thumb under his knowledge- 
tooth, truth was revealed to him, and he said : * the king of the 
Britons* son has deprived you of your hounds ; pick ye therefore 
nine men to go in quest of them !* They were chosen, their names 
being these : Dermot son of Donn son of Donough son of Dubhán^ 

of the Ema of Munster in the south : Goll mac Morna '^ 

" Was Goll a chiefs son, or a simple warrior's ? " Patrick enquired. 
" A chiefs," answered Caeilte : — 

'* He was son of Teigue son of Morna of the magh^ that was son of Faelan 
son of Feradach son of Fiacha son of Art of the magh son of Muiredach son 
of EochaicL" 

" There was Gael cródha the hundred-slayer, grandson of Nemh- 
nann : a champion that Finn had, and endowed with deadly pro- 
perty (which property attaching to him was that his arm never 
'h^X delivered a cast that missed the mark, and that never was his 
hand bloodied on a man but the same would before a nine days' 
term were out be dead) ; there was Finn's son Ossian : he that, 
if only a man had a head to eat with and legs to go upon [and 
carry off his largesse], never refused any." " Caeilte," said Patrick, 
"that is a great character." "And though it be so it is a true 
one," Caeilte answered, and said : — 

"In the matter of gold, of silver, or concerning meat, Ossian never denied 
any man ; nor, though another's generosity were such as might fit a chief, did 
Ossian ever seek aught of him." 


"There was Ossian's son Oscar : the chiefs son that in all Ire- 


land was best for spear-throwing and for vigorous activity ; also 
Ferdoman son of Bodhb Derg son of the Daghda ; Finn's son 
Raighne Wide-eye, his son Cainche the crimson-red ; Glas son of 
Encfterd Béra^ mac Lughach and myself. Now, saintly Patrick, 
we the aforesaid within ourselves were conscious [i.e. felt confi- 
dent] that from Taprobane in the east to the garden of the 
Hesperides in the world's westernmost part were no four hundred 
warriors but, on the battle-field and hand-to-hand, we were a match 
for them : we had not a head without a helmet, nor shoulder with- 

The Colloquy. 107 

out whitened shield, nor right fist that grasped not two great and 
lengthy spears. On this expedition we went our ways then, and 
until we reached Lodan mac Lir's mountain, where we had been 
no long time before we heard dialogue of men that hunted in the 

"As regards Beine Brit's son Arthur: he just then, with his ^ I 
people, sat on his hunting-mound. Them we chaise in lively 
fashion, kill Arthur's people all ; but round about him Oscar 
knits both his arms, gives him quarter, and we bring off our three 
hounds. Here GoU mac Moma chancing to look about him saw. 
an iron-grey horse, flecked with spots, and wearing a bridle fitted 
with wrought ornament of gold. At another glance that he threw 
to his left he discerned a bay horse (one not easy to lay hold of) 
and having a reticulated bridle of twice refined silver fitted with 
a golden bit This [second] horse also GoU mac Moma seized 
and put into the hand of Ossian, who passed him on to Dermot 
ua Duibhne, After successful execution and due celebration of 
our slaughter we came away, bringing with us the heads of those 
thrice nine, our hounds and horses too, with Artíiur himself ' in 
hand [i.e. a prisoner],' and so back to where Finn was : in Edar's 
old fptagh nelta [angl, *Moynalty']. We reached his tent, and 
Caeilte said: *we have brought Arthur.' This latter entered 
into bonds with Finn, and thereafter, up to the day in which he ' 
died, was Finn's follower. The two horses we gave to Finn : 
horse and mare, of whose seed were all the horses of the Fianna, 
who hitherto had not used any such. The mare bred eight times : 
at every birth eight foals, which were made over to the various 
detachments and ' good men ' [i.e. notables] of the Fianna, and 
these in the sequel had chariots made." 

" Success and benediction be thine, Caeilte," said Patrick, " and '^W 
tell us the names of the chiefs and mighty men that owned those 
horses." Then Caeilte, telling it, said : — 

''The horses of the Fianna are known to me . . ." 

'' Success and benediction, Caeilte : all this is to us a recreation 
of spirit and of mind, were it only not a destruction of devotion 
and a dereliction of prayer." 

There they were until the morrow's morning came, when Patrick "^^ 
robed himself and emerged upon the green ; together with his 
three score priests, three score psalmodists, and holy bishops 

io8 The Colloquy. 

three score as well, that with him disseminated faith and piety 
throughout Ireland. Patrick's two guardian angels came to him 
now : Aibellán and Solusbrethachy of whom he enquired whether 
in God's sight it were convenient for him to be listening to 
stories of the Fianna. With equal emphasis, and concordantly, 
the angels answered him : " holy cleric, no more than a third part 
of their stories do those ancient warriors tell, by reason of forget- 
fulness and lack of memory ; but by thee be it [such as it is] 
written on tabular staffs of poets, and in oUaves' words ; for to the 
companies and nobles of the latter time to give ear to these stories 
will be for a pastime." Which said, the angels departed, 
.t^ From Patrick now messengers were despatched to fetch Caeilte, 

and he along with the nine that were his number were brought 
to the saint ; whose names were these : Failbhe son of Flann ; 
Eoghan Red-weapon, the king of Ulidia's son ; Flann, son of 
Fergus king of Kinelconnell ; Conall the Slaughterer, son of 
Angus king of Connacht ; Scannlan, son of Ailell king of Ossory ; 
Baedan, son of Garb king of Corcaguiney ; Luaimnech Linn, son 
of the yng of the Ema of Munster ; Failbhe and Uainchenn, the 
king of Dalaradia's sons out of the north ; with Fulartach, son of 
Finghin king of the tuatha of Bregia and of Meath. 

Patrick said : " know ye why ye are brought to confer with 
me ? " " In sooth we know it not," they answered. " To the end 
ye should make obeisance [i.e. conform] to the gospel of Heaven's 
and of Earth's king: the Very and the most Glorious God." 
Then and there the water of Christ's Baptism was by Patrick 
sprinkled on them preparatory to the baptism and conversion of 
all Ireland. 

Then [with his right hand] Caeilte reached across him to the 
rim of his shield, and gave to Patrick a ridgy mass of gold [taken 
thence] in which were three times fifty ounces : this as a fee for 
the baptism of the nine with him. He said : " that was Finn's, 
the chief's, last wage to me and, Patrick, have it thou for my soul's 
and for my commander's soul's weal." The extent to which this 
mass reached on Patrick was from his middle finger's tip to his 
shoulder's highest point, while in width and in thickness it mea- 
sured a man's cubit Now this gold was bestowed upon the Tail- 
chentCs canonical hand-bells, on psalters and on missals. 
/\^^^ Patrick said again : " it is well, Caeilte ; what was the best 

The Colloquy. 109 

hunting that the Fianna ever had, whether in Ireland or in Scot- 
land ? " " The hunting of Arran." Patrick enquired : " where is 
that land ? " " Betwixt Scotland and Pictland : on the first day 
of the trog^an-month (which now is called lughnasadh i.e. 'Lammas- 
tide') we, to the number of the Fianna's three battalions, practised 
to repair thither and there have our fill of hunting until such time 
as from the tree-tops the cuckoo would call in Ireland. More 
melodious than all music whatsoever it was to give ear to the 
voices of the birds as they rose from the billows and from the 
island's coast-line ; thrice fifty separate flocks there were that en- 
circled her, and they clad in gay brilliance of all colours : as blue, 
and green, and azure, and yellow." Here Caeilte uttered a lay : — 

"Arran of the many stags — the sea impinges on her very shoulders ! an 
island in which whole companies were fed — and with ridges among which 
blue spears are reddened ! Skittish deer are on her pinnacles, soft blackberries 
on her waving heather ; cool water there is in her rivers, and mast upon her 
russet oaks ! Greyhounds there were in her, and beagles ; blaeberries and 
sloes of the dark blackthorn ; dwellings with their backs set close against her 
woods, and the deer fed scattered by her oaken thickets ! A crimson crop 
grew on her rocks, in all her glades a faultless grass ; over her crags affording 
friendly refuge, leaping went on and fawns were skipping ! Smooth were her 
level spots — her wild swine, they were fat ; cheerful her fields (this is a tale that 
may be credited), her nuts hung on her forest-hazels' boughs, and there was 
sailing of long galleys past her ! Right pleasant their condition all when the 
fair weather sets in : imder her rivers' brinks trouts lie ; the sea-gulls wheeling 
round her grand cliff answer one the other— at every fitting time delectable 
is Arran ! " 

" Victory and blessing wait on thee, Caeilte ! " said Patrick : 
" for the future thy stories and thyself are dear to us." 

Straightway now forth from him Patrick saw a Tort, a fair 
dwelling, and : " Caeilte," he said, " what is yon town ? " " That 
\s the proudest town that ever I was in, in Ireland or in Scot- 
land." " Who lived there ? " " The three sons of Lughaid Menn 
son of Angus, i.e. the king of Ireland's three sons : Ruidhe, and 
Fiacha^ and Eochaid were their names." " What procured them 
that great wealth?" 

" It was once upon a time that they came to have speech of 
their father, Xofert na ndruadh^ i.e. 'grave of the wizards,* north- 
west of Tara : — * Whence come ye, young fellows ? * he enquired. 
They made answer : * from echlais banghuba to the southward, out 
of our nurse's and our guardian's house.' * My lads, what set you 



I ló The Colloquy. 

in motion ? ' asked the king again. * To crave a country of thee, 
a domain.' For a space the king was silent, and then said : * no 
father it was that on me conferred either country or domain, but 
my own luck and dazzling achievement. Lands therefore I will 
not bestow on you, but win lands for yourselves.' Thereupon 
they with the ready rising of one man rose and took their way to 
the green of the brugh upon the Boyne where, none other being 
in their company, they sat them down. Ruidhe said : * what is 
your plan to-night?' His brothers rejoined : 'our project is to 
fast on the tuatha dé Danann^ aiming thus to win from them good 
fortune in the shape of a country, of a domain, of lands, and to 
/^•^<7\ have vast riches.' Nor had they been long there when they 
marked a cheery-looking young man of a pacific demeanour 
that came towards them. He salutes the king of Ireland's sons ; 
they answer him after the same manner. * Young man, whence 
art thou ? whence comest thou ?' * Out of yonder brugh chequered 
with the many lights hard by you here.' * What name wearest 
thou ? ' * I am the Daghdds son Bodhb Derg ; and to the tuatha 
dé Danann it was revealed that ye would come to fast here to- 
night, for lands and for great fortune. But come with me, lads.' 
Simultaneously they rose, and entered into the brugh \ supper 
was served them, but they ate it not. Bodhb enquired of them 
why it was that they took no meat * Because the king of Ireland, 
our father, denied us territory and lands. Now there are in Ire- 
land but two tribes that are equal : the sons of Milesius, and the 
tuatha dé Danann \ to the alternative one of which we are come 

" Then the tuatha dé Danann went into council, he that in such 
council was most noble in rank, and preponderant, being Midhir 
Yellow-mane son of the Daghda, who said : * those yonder ac- 
commodate now with three wives, since from wives it is that 
either fortune or misfortune is derived.' Whereat were given to 
them Midhir's three daughters : Doirenn, and Aife, and Aillbhe. 
Quoth Midhir: 'say, Bodhb, what gifts shall be given them?' 
Bodhb said : ' I will declare it Three times fifty sons of kings 
we are in this sldh ; from every king's son of whom be given 
them thrice fifty ounces of red gold, while from me they shall 
have [in addition] thrice fifty suits of raiment various with all 
hues.' Aedh, son of Aedh na nabusach from cnoc ardmulla out in 


The Colloquy. 1 1 1 

the sea, which to-day is called Rachrainn \angl ' Rathlin '], and a 
stripling of the tuatha dé Danann^ said : * from me too a gift for 
them, viz. a horn and a vat ; regarding which it needs but to fill the 
vat with pure water, and of this it will make mead both drinkable 
and having virtue to intoxicate ; but into the horn put bitter brine 
out of the deep, and on the instant it shall turn it into wine.' 

* A gift for them from me,' said Lir of sidh Finnackaid\ 'three 
times fifty swords, and thrice fifty well rivetted spears of length.* 

* A gift from me to them,' said the Daghda's son Angus Oge : * a 
fort and stronghold, and a most excellent spacious town with 
lofty stockades, with light-admitting bowers, with houses of accu- 
rate prospect and very roomy ; all this in whatsoever place it 
shall please them between rath Chobtaigh and Tara.* 'A gift 
for them from me,' said Aine daughter of Modharn : ' a she-cook 
that I have, to whom it is matter of prohibition to refuse meat to ^ 
any ; but according as she serves out, so too is her store replen- 
ished [of itself].' * A gift from me to them,' said Bodhb Derg : 

* a good minstrel that I have {Fer-tuinne mac Trogain is his name), 
and though saws were being plied where there were women in 
sharpest pains of childbirth, and brave men that were wounded 
early in the day, nevertheless would such sleep to the fitful 
melody that he makes. Yet to the dwelling in which for the 
time being he actually is he is not minstrel more effectively than 
to that whole country's inhabitants in general [for all they as well 
may hear him}' For three days with their nights they abode in 

"Angus told them to carry away out of fidh omna^ i.e. 'Oak- '^^"y 

wood,' three apple-trees: one in full bloom, another shedding 

the blossom, and another covered with ripe fruit Then they 

repaired to the dún^ where they abode for three times fifty years, 

and until those kings disappeared ; for in virtue of marriage 

alliance they returned again to the tuatha dé Danaan^ and from 

that time forth have remained there. And that, Patrick, is the 

dun concerning which thou enquiredst of me," said Caeilte : — 

Caeilte cecimt, 
" Three things in great plenty, and O great plenty of three things, that out 
of Buide's high fort issued ! a crowd of young men, a great troop of horses, 
the numerous greyhounds of Lughaid^s three sons. Three sorts of music, 
and O music of three kinds, that comely kings enjoyed ! music of harps, 
melody of sweet timpans, humming of Trogan's son Fer-tuinne. A triple 



112 The Colloquy. 

din, and O a din three-fold ! sound of tramping ascending from that fort's 
green, uproar of racing, boom of lowing kine. Three noises, and O noises 
three ! sound of its swine span>thick in fat and excellent, buzz of the crowd 
upon the palace lawn, [indoors] hilarity of revellers with mead-begotten 
clamour. Fruit crops in three stages, and O crops in stages three, that used to 
be there hanging on its boughs ! a tree a-shedding, a tree in bloom, and yet 
another laden ripe. Three sons it was that Lughaid left (though their great 
deeds are passed away) : Ruide, spacious Lughaid's son, Eochaid and manly 
Fiacha. I will testify to Eochaid that never took a step in flight : never was 
he without his customary music, nor ever for any time without quaffing of ale 
[i.e. banquets were constant in his mansion]. I will testify to Fiacha (though 
the fame of his depredations be obscured) : never he uttered expression that 
was excessive, and in his time was none that more excelled in valour. I will 
testify to Ruide, to whom those foresaid three things [i.e. young men, horses, 
hounds] in great plenty flowed in : that never a thing he denied to any man, 
nor of a man sought anything at all. Thirty chieftains, thirty leaders, thirty 
champions that might befit a king ; while the strength of his centuple-com- 
pounded host was hundreds thirty-fold thrice told." 

" Caeilte," said Patrick, " success and benediction I all this is a 
recreation of spirit and of mind to us." 
«((fl Not long they had been there when they saw draw towards 
them as straight as might be, out of the south, a young man that 
made a brave show: about him was a crimson mantle, and in 
it a fibula of gold : next to his skin a shirt of yellow silk ; he 
brought also a double armful of round yellow-headed nuts and 
of beautiful golden-yellow apples, which he deposited on the 
ground in front of Patrick, who enquired : " whence bringest thou 
this fruit, lad?" He answered: "out of the luxuriant-branchy 
Feeguile." " What is thy name ?" " Falartach son of Fergus am 
I." "What is thy rightful heritage?" "The rule over Bregia's 
tuatha and Meath's, and over the Decies of Tara, is that which 
\/ constitutes my right ; but [instead of enjoying it] I am a free- 
booter and an outlaw." "Who is he upon whom thou doest 
depredation?" "An own brother to myself: Becan son of 
Fergus." " Thy right be to thee shortly," said Patrick. " Holy 
cleric, give it a definite term." "Within this same year in 
which we are it shall be ; but whence bringest thou the fruit ?" 
" Verily I know," Caeilte said, " whence it was brought : from ros 
mic Triuin beyond in Feeguile, a hunting preserve that one had 
who to Finn mac Cumall was a fighting man of trust : the lusty 
and prowess-performing son of Lugh." Patrick said : " it is well ; 
there it is that a confidential of my own familia dwells, Oesan 

The Colloquy. 113 

namely, the king of Scotland's son, that also is a chaplain to 
me." " That place," Caeilte went on, " was a hunting preserve to 
the Fianna ; and whenever in both Ireland and Scotland scarcity 
of game befel them, in ros mic Triuin they always had their 
sufficiency of hunting for three days and three nights": — 

Caeilte ceciniL 
" As cluain chesáin it was heard of afar : to which mac Lughach would 
resort ; but at the coming of the Táilchenn its designation became ros mic 
Triuin, Though in cluain chesáin of the clergy psalms now are sung in alternate 
strains, I have seen the gentian-bearing cluain all covered with the red deer 
in their sportiveness. Over the linn though reading there be now, there was 
a time when [cluain ckesain] contained no church ; but a soil of apple-trees, 
a place in which was swimming of its streams [by the Fianna at their pastime] 
and a habitation of tribute the gentian-growing cluain was then. The pro- 
pitious prophecy is come to pass, and táilchenns have made their dwelling in 
cluain chcsáin : Finn the generous, the giver away of rings and bracelets, had 
said that it would be a repair of saints, of angels. Many a time we and our 
hounds by turns followed hard on the young and gallant deer : the while our 
warriors and their beagles at their own discretion preyed all the region around 
the fair cluain. It was three score queens that at one and the same time I 
had in truth ; and all of them I used to entertain, for I was an artfully skilled 

Patrick asked : " what time of day is it now ?" Benignus said : 
**it is near night." "Is our supper come to us yet?" the saint 
enquired. Benignus answered: "it is not indeed." Fulartach 
son of Fergus said now : " holy Patrick I could put thee in the 
way of a town in which to-night thou shouldst have supper and 
provision." "What place is that?" "In Becan's, in my own 
brother's house, in the tuatha of Bregia and of Meath." 

Some clerics preceded Patrick to the house of Becan, who was 
so that he had thirty milch herds ; yet he denied them meat, 
Benignus and the clergy return therefore, tell their story to 
Patrick, and he says : " all so many as the fellow has of cattle 
and of people, I ordain that by to-morrow there be not a single 
one of them escaped alive." The thing came true too, ut dixit 
Patricias : — 

" Becan here and Becan there : be his fastings not many in number ; so 
long as the sun shall travel right-handwise, let Becan not make mirth for them 
[his people]." 

Then the earth swallowed up Becan with his people — with all 
his wealth, animal and human, simultaneously — and Fulartach 
mac Fergus said : " holy cleric, this night's lodging and entertain- 



1 1 4 The Colloquy. 

ment I proffer thee : nine-and-twenty kine which hitherto I have 
had supporting my kerne while they marauded and were out- 
laws." Patrick said : " chiefs power from me to thee from mid- 
day to-morrow, and to thy seed after thee, until ye run counter 
to the Church," Thus then was Becan consigned to the earth, 
and Patrick committed the governance to Fulartach. 

Next, Patrick enquired of Caeilte how many brothers Finn had, 
and he answered : " he had two brothers : Fithal and Dithran : — 

"On this point of the three sons that Cumall had our antiquaries are 
obscure [but I can clear it up] : Finn and Dithran of the feasts, and Fithal of 
the bards were they." 

^^t " Whose son was mac Lugach : he concerning whom last night 
I enquired of thee?" Patrick said. Caeilte made answer: "for 
another that would be a problem, but not so for me. He was son 
to Finn's son Daire Derg. 

■ . • • • • ..• 

k\ " So soon as the boy was born he was laid in Finn's bosom, 
and he again laid him in the bosom of Duban's daughter Muing- 
finn (wife to Finn: she that of the Fianna had reared eight 
hundred that now bore shield and weapon), and she nurtured the 
boy till his twelve years were complete. Then she gave him a 
sufficient complement of arms and armour ; and so he went his 
way until he reached carraic Conluain and the mountain of Sm6l 
viae Edlecair, which to-day is called sliabh Bladhma \angL *Slieve- 
bloom'], where Finn and the Fianna were. He entered the presence 
of Finn the chief, who gave him very gentle welcome ; the lad 
, made his covenant of service and of fealty to him, struck his 
hand in Finn's, and for a year was in the Fianna. But among 
these for such space of time he showed great sloth, so that under 
that youngster's conduct not more than some nine of the Fianna 
had attained to killing whether of boar or of deer ; together with 
all which he used to beat both his hounds and his servitors. 

" Then the Fianna proceeded to ros infhéinneda [i.e. * the Fian's 
point '] on swelling loch LéitCs edge in the south [i.e. Killarney] ; 
and when the three battles of the Fianna were come so far, before 
Finn they laid complaint against mac Lugach, saying: 'take now 
thy choice, whether to have us or mac Lugach by himself.' 

"Now was mac Lugach brought to confer with Finn, who 
enquired of him : * good now, mac Lugach, what harm hast thou 

The Colloquy. 1 1 5 

done the Flanna, seeing that one and all they have a spite at 
thee?* *I affirm upon my word/ he said, *that I know not their 
reason ; unless indeed it be that they are averse to my practice 
of athletic feats and of spear-casting among them.* ^y 

" To mac Lugach then the chief gave counsel, and his counsel 
had great virtue in it, and abode lastingly with mac Lugach ; and 
Finn said : — 

"*Mac Lugach! if armed service be thy design, in a great man's house* 
hold be quiet, be surly in the rugged pass. Without a fault of his beat not 
thy hound ; until thou ascertain [her guilt] bring not a charge against thy 
wife ; in battle meddle not with a buffoon, for, O mac Lugach, he is but a fool. 
Censure not any if he be of grave repute ; stand not up to take part in a 
brawl ; neither have anything at all to do with either a mad man or a wicked 
one. Two-thirds of thy gentleness be shewn to women and to creepers on 
the floor [i.e. little children], likewise to men of art that make the duans\ 
and be not violent to the common people. With thy familiars, with them 
that are of thy counsel, hasten not to be the first into bed ; perverse alliance 
shun, and all that is prohibited ; yield not thy reverence to all. Utter 
not swaggering speech, nor say that thou wilt not render the thing that is 
right ; for a shameful thing it is to speak too stifHy unless that it be feasible to 
carry out thy words. So long as in the universe thou shalt exist, thy lord for- 
sake not ; neither for gold nor for other valuable in the earthly world abandon 
thou thy guarantee [i.e. him that places himself under thy protection]. To a 
chief utter not strenuous criticism of his people ; for it is not a * good man's ' 
[i.e. a gentleman's] occupation to abuse a great lord's people to their chief. Be 
not a continually tattling tale-bearer, nor a false one ; be not loquacious, nor 
censorious rashly ; be the multiplicity of thy chivalrous qualities what it may, 
yet have thou not the Irachts hostilely inclined to thee. Be not a frequenter of 
the drinking-house, nor given to carping at an ancient man ; the conduct thou 
bearest recommended, that is the right \rh TrpÍTrov] : meddle not with a man 
of mean estate. Deal not in refusing of thy meat, and any that is penurious 
have not for a familiar ; force not thyself upon a chief, nor give a chief 
lord occasion to speak ill of thee. Stick to thy raiment, hold fast to thine 
armature, until the stem fight with its weapon-glitter be well ended ; never 
renounce to back thy luck, yet follow after gentleness, mac Lugach 1*" 

" Success and benediction ! " said Patrick : " a good story it is i- 
that thou hast told us there; and where is Brogan the scribe?" 
Brogan answered : " here, holy Cleric." " Be that tale written by 
thee " ; and Brogan performed it on the spot. 

Then Patrick questioned Caeilte: "had ye musicians in the 
Fianna?" and he answered: "we had so, the finest musician that 
was in either Ireland or Scotland." "What name was his?" 
" Cnú dheireoil [i.e. 'diminutive nut ']." " Where was he acquired ?" 
" Between crota cliach and sidh na mban fionn [angl. * Slievena- 

I 2 


-^ I 

1 1 6 The Colloquy. 

man *] in the south." "What is his description ?" " Four fists of 
Finn's they were that made up his stature, three in the instrument 
/ of music that he played ; and the matter with him was this : that 
the tuath dé DananrCs other musicians were grown jealous of him. 
" On the day in question, Finn with design to hunt repaired to 
Slievenaman and there sat upon a certain turf-built grave. The 
chief, taking a look round then, saw a tiny man that close to him 
upon the green mound \lit, * on the sod '] played and performed 
upon his harp ; the manner of him being that he had on him long 
light-yellow hair down to his very loins. So soon as he perceived 
Finn he came to him and, the chief being the first man that was 
come in his way since he had emerged out of the sídh^ laid his 
hand in Finn's ; then in Finn's presence, and until the Fianna 
came up, continued to play his harp. They being there heard 
a superlatively sweet music and, *good now, Finn,' they said: 
* this is the third best windfall thou ever hadst' The same tarried 
with Finn until he died." Then Caeilte uttered a lay : — 

Í 1*0 " A dwarf it was that stalwart Finn obtained : such was the excellence of 
his memory that he retained by heart all whatsoever in both east and west he 
chanced to hear. Cnú deireoil was the man's name ; in Ireland he was not 
unknown ; beloved was the wee urchin that was expert of speech, whose 
cognomen was Cnú deireoiL I will relate to you how Finn procured the 
dwarf: a propitious offspring 'twas that was had then, for it was Lugh mac 
Eithlenn's only son. We were, along with Finn, betwixt the crota and Slieve- 
naman ; when on the green bank near beside us there we heard a perfect 
music To him [the minstrel] we listened then — his melody admitted not of 
indifference — it lacked but little that the swelling music, well sustained, had 
lulled us all to sleep. Cumall's son Finn of Almha spoke out clearly then, 
and said : ' whence comest thou, small man, that with a touch so smooth and 
deft playest the harp ?' * Out of Slievenaman come I : a place where mead 
is drunk, and ale ; and therefore am I come precisely, to be for a spell in thy 
companionship.' * Thou shalt have precious things, and wealth, and red gold, 
and good servitors ; for well I like the manner of thee, and thou shalt have 
full measure of my intimacy.' In Finn's hand he laid his own, and thereat 
we were joyous all ; hither we conveyed him with us, and deemed our find to 
be a gentle one. Four fists were in the stature of the man, three in his harp 
so mild and dear: fuU-volumed was the sound of the soft delicate instrument, 
sweet the outpourings of his little harp. The five musicians of the Fianna 
were in a body brought to him ; so that in those yonder parts from Cnú in 
gentle wise we learned a fairy music. Of these was Senach's son, Senach 
himself and Daighres two ; in noble style they learned from him, and Cuan 
likewise studied. To Finn of the Fianna 'twas a sore perplexity to have his 
mannikin without a spouse : [as still he was] for the valiant man could not 
frame to stomach the gross huge women [whom we love]. Finn the great 

The Colloquy. 1 1 7 

chief said that gold and silver too he would bestow on him that in Ireland 
should discover such a thing: a woman his dwarfs counterpart. Quoth Scl 
mac Eoghain — a warrior with a lion's nature — * I will name (and my story's 
fraught with good event) a place where that is which shall match him just.' 

* My blessing take, and hie thee to thy home, O son of Eoghan out of Munster ! 
but first for friendship tell us forth the country in which such a thing exists to 
be reported of.' *0 Finn, the hardy, the triumphant, to tech Dutnn [i.e. 

* Donn's House T in Munster make thy way : where there is (and she will fit 
thy purpose) a woman to whom Bláihncut is cognomen.* In all haste then 
we and the chief of the Fianna skilled to ply the edge [i.e. in the use of all 
cutting weapons] take our journey to * Donn's House ' to seek the woman : a 
proceeding by which our good spirits were much enhanced. Blathnait we 
found within the sidh^ and of a truth brought her away ; then in the great 
house yonder Blathnait and Cnú deireoil slept as man and wife. An ounce 
of gold a man we give — so many as we were of the Fianna — in dowry of the 
blameless woman that was bestowed upon the dwarf Four fists, I say, were 
in the stature of the man, and in his smooth white harp were three ; the wife 
was taller than the husband ; they made a dear white-handed couple I All 
mysteries of the broidering art the wife possessed : skill to manipulate the 
silver and the gold ; the man's it was (and a stupendous gift) to gratify the 
whole world's throngs at once with minstrelsy. Among the Fianna there was 
not a queen, a leader, nor a chief endowed with sense, but to the couple 
so infantine [in bulk] they gave their love and divers gifts of price. Whenever 
hard foul weather would come on the Fianna, men of kingly mind, under his 
mantle Finn would have them both: Blathnait and the mannikin. When 
good was coming to the Fianna, Blathnait with wisdom would reveal it ; and V' 
w^hen evil awaited them, the dwarf would not conceal it from them. Upon 
the Earth there is not melody (such as a man's soul might desire) but in the 
banquet-house its strains were petty, except such as Cnú deireoil used to 
make [i.e. how excellent soever they were in themselves they would not stand 
comparison with his]. Three windfalls, best that Finn most generous Fian- 
chief ever had : his deerhounds Bran and Sceolan, the faultless ; and Blathnait 
together with the dwarf.** 

After this they were no long time till they saw seven tall young ''' 
fellows that came towards them. Patrick said : " whence come 
ye, striplings, and who are you ?" " From Eoghan LetJiderg^ son 
of Angus and king of Munster's both provinces, we are come 
to fetch thee, holy Patrick." The saint said : " we will e'en go 
thither; for wheresoever endown#hts may be had, there it is a 
matter of duty to take them." "And what shall we do: these 
nine warriors here ?" asked Caeilte. "A month's, and a quarter's, 
and a year's welcome to you to be with me," Patrick replied. 

Then Patrick set out, and the way that he took was into Fee- 
guile; into Drumcree, which at this time is called 'Kildare*; 
across the srtiithlinn in Durrow, and over the Barrow ; over tóchar 


1 1 8 The Colloquy. 

Léighe^ i.e. 'the stone causeway of Cuarnait's daughter Liagh/ 
where Liagh perished ; into * the old Plain of Dian mac Dilenn's 
daughter Ratchet' now called * Moyrua of Rechet;* into old magk 
neo \angL * Moynoe ' i,e. * the plain of yews '] now called * the Plain 
of Leix ' ; over the spawning-salmon-full Nore ; skirting Aghaboe 
of ... . the mighty striker, now called achadh . . . . ; 
into the way of Dála mac ú'M6ir\ past ros an churad [i.e. * the 
hero's wood '] now called the very beautiful ros ere ; with his right 
hand towards lathach bo Loddin mhicLir or * the slough of Lodan 
mac Lir's cows/ now called the cldr^ or * expanse/ of Derrymore; 
past the Corroges of Cleghile; past cuillenn ua cuanach to the 
westward, where at Finn's hands Cuillenn mac Morna perished; 
past léim infhéinneda or * the Fian's leap ' ; skirting the assembly- 
place of Nechtan's wife Cuil, now called the heifer-carrying fair- 
green of Old Clochar; past cenn febhrat of sliabh caoin^ i.e. 'the 
Ballyhowra Hills ' and * Slievereagh/ to the southward ; by tulach 
fiaféinne or 'hill of the Fianna,' which now is called Ardpatrick: 
where was Angus's son Eoghan Lethderg, king of both Munster 
provinces, and the nobles of the same along with him. 

Then his tent was unfurled over Patrick ; the king of Munster 
came with the chief men of his people and laid his head in 
Patrick's bosom, and made obeisance to him. For a week the 
saint was there : raising the dead, healing them that had diseases 
and infirmities, and relieving every other affliction besides. 

His own award was conceded to Patrick ; after which Eoghan 
went his way to rosach na righ\ to his own strong place, and 
Munster's nobles sought their own several forts and good towns. 

Patrick said : " good now, Caeilte, and wherefore was the name 
OÍ fionntulach [i,e. 'white hill'] given to this eminence on which 
we stand ?" "I will tell you the truth of it," answered Caeilte: 
"it was hence that we, the three battalions of the Fianna 
marched to deliver the battle of Ventry. Hither our spears had 
been brought to us, charmed^ithies also for our spear-shafts. 
Finn surveyed the hill round about him, and said : ' the hill is 
white; what better name then could it have úízxí fionntulach}'" 

^ '^ Caeilte cecinit» 

" O thou, this high and pleasant hill, to which the Fianna, white [with their 
peeled withies] did resort ! a vast extended camp, a picked body of fine 
young men, were customary things upon thee. This was our portion to relate : 

The Colloquy. 119 

we used to gain some eminence in a level land [and there would have] beautiful 
blackberries, haws of the hawthorn, nuts from the hazels of Cantyre. Tender 
twigs of the thorny bramble-bush, sprigs of the beneficial gentian ; and every 
Beltane we used to consume both smooth shoots and head of the watercress. 
Birds out of trackless oaken woods would find their way into the Fianna's 
cooking pit ; parti-coloured squirrels out of Berramcdn^ and variegated nests 
from mountain pinnacles. Rapid salmons out of Unnmhuine^ the eels of 
noble Shannon; woodcocks of Fidhrinn, otters out of the Deel's hidden 
places. Fish of the briny sea from the coasts of Buie and Beare ; medhbán 
of lightsome Fáide, and duilesc from the coves of Cléire. To swim the loch- 
forming Loingsech was a frequent habit with mac Lugach ; upon thy yonder 
side, O hill, we used to come in a host of many numbers. I and Ossian of 
renown, we used to embark in currachs ; as I frequented its waves and its 
[abutting] hills, I had the severities of the green sea. 

" From this spot also it was that, as aforesaid, we marched to *?^^ 
fight the battle of Ventry ; and [as we did so] we saw approach 
us [out of another quarter] a young man of Finn's people : the 
valiant and hundred-slaying Cael ua Nemhnainn. * Whence art 
thou come, Cael ?' asked Finn. * Out of the perilous brugh to the 
northward/ 'What sought'st thou there?' *To have speech of 
Muirenn daughter of Derg, mine own nurse.' 'What was the 
motive of that ?' * It was because of a fairy sweetheart and of a 
splendid match propounded to me in a dream : Créidhe^ daughter 
of Cairbre surnamed 'Whiteskin,* king of Ciarraighe LuachraJ 
Finn said : * knowest thou, Cael, that of all Ireland's women she 
is the arch-she-deceiver ? few costly things there are but she has 
coaxed away to her own mansion and grand dwelling-place.' 
Cael said : * and knowest thou what the condition also is which 
she requires of all [that would woo her] ? ' * I know it,' Finn 
answered: '[she will entertain none but him], whosoe'er he be, 
that of art or poetic skill shall have sufficient to make for her a 
duan setting forth a full description of her cuachs^ her horns, her 
cups, her ians and all other her fine vessels, together with that of 
her various vast palaces.' 'All which I have in readiness : given 
to me by Derg's daughter Muireifc, mine own nurse.' 

" Then for that time we renounced the battle, and over regions 
of hills, of rocks, of tulachs, took our way until we came to loch 
Cuire in the west of Ireland. We reached the door of the sidhy / 

and with the shafts of our long and gold-soclcetted spears there \/ 
performed the dórdfiansa. Girls, yellow-haired, of marriageable 
age, Shewed on the balconies of bowers ; and Credhe, accom- 

I20 The Colloquy. 

panícd by three fifties of women, issued forth to speak with us. 
Said the Fian -chief to her: *to elect and to woo thee we are 
come.' The lady enquired who it might be that sought to court 
her. *Cael it is, the valiant, the hundred-slayer, grandson of 
Nemhnann, son of the king of Leinster in the east !' She said: 
* we have heard his report, albeit we never have seen him. But 
has he my duan for me?' Gael answered: *I have so,' then rose 
and sang his duan : — 

y\ l'^ " * A journey I have in hand on a Friday (if I go then am I a true guest) to 
Credhe's mansion (the effort is no trivial one) against the mountain's breast 
in the north-east. It is appointed for me to go thither : to Credhe, at the 
I Paps of Anann ; and that there I must remain exposed to difficulties, for four 
days and half a week. ( Pleasant is the house in which she is : what with men 
and boys and women, with both magicians and minstrels, with both cup- 
bearer and door-keeper, with both horse-keeper that never shirked his duty 
and dispenser to distribute meat, the command over all whom belongs to fair 
Credhe, the yellow-haired. What with coverlet and what with down, in her 
dun my lot will be a pleasant one ; [of old] it hath been heard that, should 
Credhe but will it, my journey would be an auspicious one for me [i.e. the 
conditions of a quest such as mine have long been matter of notoriety]. A 
bowl she has whence juice of berries flows, with which she has been used to 
make her eyebrows black ; crystal vats of fermenting grains, cups she has 
and goblets exquisite. The colour of her dun is as that of lime ; coverlets 
and rushes [for the beds] abound among them there ; silk is among them, 
and many a blue mantle ; among them are red gold and the polished drinking- 
horn. Her bower by lock cuire^ of silver and of yellow gold : its ridgy thatch 
is laid without defect, of ruddy birds' wings, crimson-red. Two green-hued 
door-posts which thou seest — ^their door has no deformity ; silver taken as 
spoil from the slain ('tis of old renown) was the beam that furnished forth its 
lintel. Credhe's chair upon thy left [on entering] was more and more delight- 
ful [the longer one surveyed it] ; an overlay of ElpcCs gold it had, and stood 
at her delicate bed's foot. A glittering bed laid out, that dominates the 
chair ; that was made by Tuile in the east, of yellow gold and of precious 
stones. Yet another bed, on thy right hand, of gold and of silver wrought 
unerringly ; with tent-like curtains having appearance of the foxglove's flower, 
and running upon slender copper rods. The household that is in her house, 
to them it is that above all their lines are fallen in pleasant places ; their 
mantles are neither pale nor smooth||i*e. neither faded nor worn to a gloss], 
their redundant locks are curly and in colour fair. Wounded men losing 
heavy jets of blood would fall asleep to the fairy birds a-warbling on her 
bower's radiant eaves. Should I have reason to be grateful to the woman, to 
Credhe for whom the cuckoo calls : her lays shall live on yet more numerous, 
if she but requite the loving service done her [in composing this]. To 
Cairbre's daughter if it pleasing be, she will not reduce me to terms of post- 
ponement ; but may she rather say to me here now : * thy journey is most 
welcome to me.' A hundred feet in Credhe's house there are from one angle 

The Colloquy. I2i 

till you reach another ; and twenty fully measured feet in the width of her 
noble door. Her roof with its thatch of blue and yellow birds' wings ; her 
parapet in front at a well, of crystal and of carbuncle gems. Four posts 
round every bed there are, of gold and of silver laid together cunningly ; in 
each post's head a crystal gem : they make heads not unpleasant [to behold]. 
A vat is there, of princely bronze, out of which runs the juice of merry malt ; 
over the vat stands an apple-tree, with the multitude of its heavy fruits. 
When Credhe's horn is filled with the vat's potent mead, at one time and 
with precision four apples fall down into the horn. Yon four that are rehearsed 
above, they set about dispensing [of the mead] : to four that sit there then 
they hand a drink apiece, likewise an apple. She that owns all these things, 
both at low water and at flood [i.e. in their entirety]— Credhe to wit from the 
triple-pinnacled tulachs — hath by a spearcast's length excelled all Ireland's 
women. Here's at her with a lay — ^no bride-gift out of shape — no epithalamium 
rashly and perfunctorily made ! here on the spot have at the lovely Credhe, 
in whose eyes may mine have been a smiling journey !' ^ 

" Then that couple were bedded, and there they [the Fianna] ^ 
were for seven days: drinking and in all enjoyment, without 
lack whether of meat, of liquor, or of any good thing whatsoever, 
were it not that one other care oppressed Finn : the allmarachs' 
presence at Ventry. Then the woman presented to each one 
of them individually a special and sufficient battle-dress, and we 
took leave of each other. 

" * Let the woman come with us,' Finn said, 'that we may learn 
to which of us either good or ill shall befal in this present busi- 
ness.' The woman brought with her vast numbers of cattle to 
supply their sick and wounded ; and she it was that so long as 
the battle was a-fighting fed them all with lacteal produce, 
with new milk. In her house too it was that the invalids and 
sick of the Fianna lay. And even as in lavishing of jewels and 
of treasure the woman outdid the women of the Fianna, so also 
in valour and in skill at arms her husband in that battle out- 
stripped the three battalions of the Fianna. Truly a calamity 
was that which on the last day of the battle was eflfected : the 
drowning of Gael namely ; and other beings too there were, of 
the brute kind, which had a life of length equal to his [i.e. that 
perished at the same time]. He being drowned then, the outside 
swell washed him in. The women and the gentles of the Fianna 
came to seek him ; by them he was raised and carried to the 
southern strand (to the southward of Ventry that is to say), so 
that tragk Chaeil or * Gael's Strand ' is that shore's name ever 
since, ^xiáfert C/iaeil or 'Gael's Grave.' 


122 The Colloquy. 

" The woman came and stretched her by his side ; she raised 
a clamorous weeping and greatly wailed: *why should not' I/ 
she said, *die of grief for my mate, when even the restless 
wild creatures die there of sorrowing after him!* Then Credhe 
said : — 

" * The haven roars, and O the haven roars, over the rushing race of rinn 
da bkarc\ the drowning of the warrior of loch da chonn^ that is what the 
wave impinging on the strand laments. Melodious is the crane, and O 
melodious is the crane, in the marshlands of druim da thrén \ 'tis she that may 
not save her brood alive [///. * that saves not her live ones '] : the wild dog of 
two colours [i.e. the fox] is intent upon her nestlings. A woful note, and O a 
wofiil note, is that which the thrush in Drumqueen emits I but not more 
cheerful is the wail that the blackbird makes in Letterlee. A woful sound, and 
O a woful sound, is that the deer utters in Drumdaleish ! dead lies the doe 
of druim Hlenn^ the mighty stag bells after her. Sore suffering to me, and O 
suffering sore, is the hero's death — his death that used to lie with me ! that the 
son of her out of doire da dhos should be now with a truss beneath his head ! 
Sore suffering to me is Cael, and O Cael is a suffering sore, that by my side he 
is in dead man's form I that the wave should have swept over his white body — 
that is what hath distracted me, so great was his delightfiilness. A dismal 
roar, and O a dismal roar, is that the shore's surf makes upon the strand ! 
seeing that the same hath drowned the comely noble man, to me it is an 
affliction that ever Cael sought to encounter it. A wofiil booming, and O a 
boom. of woe, is that which the wave makes upon the northward beach! but- 
ting as it does against the polished rock, lamenting for Cael now that he is 
gone. A wofiil fight, and O a fight of woe, is that the wave wages with the 
southern shore ! as for me, my span is determined ; that my appearance [i.e. 
beauty] is impaired by this is noted. A woful melody, and O a melody of woe, 
is that which the heavy surge of Tullachleish emits ! as for me : the calamity 
that is fallen upon me having shattered me, for me prosperity exists no more. 
Since now Crimthann's son is drowned, one that I may love after him there 
is not in being ; many a chief is fallen by his hand, and in the battle his shield 
ne'er uttered outcry 1* 

(j ** Then the young woman stretched herself out by CaePs side 
and, for grief that he was gone, died. In the one grave they both 
were buried there; and I myself it was that raised the stone which 
is over the resting-place, and hence is called ' the tomb of Cael 
and of Credhe.'" 

"Success and benediction, Caeilte!" Patrick said: "'tis a good 
story thou hast told ; and where is scribe Brogan ?" " Here am 
I." "By thee be written down all that Caeilte hath uttered." 
And written down it was. 

Not long they were now till they saw towards them a strong 
body of men that made a good show : girt about with a bulwark 

The Colloquy. 123 

of shields locked, and having at their shoulders a very forest- 
grove of lofty-spears, gold-socketted. They [i.e. some of them] 
entered into the tent where Patrick was ; in whose bosom their 
lord laid his head, while they made genuflection to him. Patrick 
said: "who art thou, young man?" He answered: "I am Bran, 
son of Derg king of Munster." Patrick pursued : " wherefore art 
thou come hither?'* " It is the art and discipline of Fianry that 
I am fain to learn, holy cleric; for I have heard that in thy 
company is a warrior of Finn's people, and with him I would 
desire to study the dordfiansar 

" Caeilte, my soul, thou hearest that," said Patrick. " I hear it : 
good now. Bran, how use ye yourselves to manage the hunting?" 
" Some tulachy or cairn, or wood of mountain rising from a plain, 
we hem in and so for the whole day's space pursue the game. 
One while we kill a deer, another time he evades us." In Patrick's 
presence Caeilte wept then, tearfully, in sadness, so that his very 
breast, his chest, was wet 

Then Patrick and Caeilte, with all so many as they had of a 
company, went up into cenn Febhrat of Slieveriach, and the lie 
of that particular spot to which they attained was this: three 
glens there were about the mountain and betwixt them a loch, its 
name being loch bó\ that of the mountain, osmetaL [Caeilte 
said]: "westward of the loch is cnoc na haeire^ zxiájinninis is the 
easternmost hill's denomination. But the name of this hill is 
cnoc Maine ; and here was a notable rogue-stag called Hath na 
dtri mbenn or *the grey one of the three antlers,' that for the 
space of seven-and-twenty years had ever eluded the Fianna, 
both man and deerhound. Now a warrior of the Fianna killed 
him, and that warrior am I." 

Caeilte rose now: eastward and westward of the loch he 
stationed his people, on the south and on the north, and Patrick 
sat him down ; whence also suidhe Pátraic or * Patrick's seat' is 
the name of that place in cenn Febhrat of Slieveriach. Then on 
high he reared his waving signal of chase, of hunting, and of 
Fianlike venery. He uttered three mighty and formidable 
whoops: whereby neither in adjacency nor in proximity to him, 
nor whether in plain or on moor, on mountain or in wood, was 
there a free-roaming stag but in his career of headlong speed 
came up ; and to cool themselves after their course they all plunged 

124 '^^^ Colloquy. 

before the hunters* faces into ample loch bS, Insomuch that, at 
that rushing noise and mighty resonance, horror and fear and 
apprehension took them : at the wild stags I say, at the roe deer 
frenzied, at the weighty-sided boars, regarding which it wanted but 
little of their having all perished on the spot with the length 
of their race and with distress of breath. The huntsmen ex- 
tended themselves round the loch, and of the quarry a single 
beast escaped not away alive. They divided the fruits of the 
chase, there being up to eight hundred head for apportionment. 
Benignus said : " to us be given a tithe of the hunt." But Bran 
mac Derg was not altogether well pleased to divide with any one 
else that which was fallen to his own share [i.e. proceeds of the 
hunt originated by himself and carried out by his men]. 

Hereat an inward disorder [in the nature of a flux] seized the 
king of Munster's son, who cried : " holy cleric, lay thy hand on 
this!" Caeilte said: "by my word, until thou pay the fee he 
shall not go [to help thee]." Bran said: "what fee?" "Seeing 
that 'tis in thy stomach the ailment is, be it the belly of every 
cow, of every swine and of every sheep [slaughtered in thy 
country] to be yielded by thee to Patrick for the Church's use 
for ever." Bran said : " that I will concede ; so shall my son 
too after me." Which then from that time forth became a 
continuous practice with all Ireland. Then to Bran mac Derg's 
stomach Patrick put his hand, and on the instant he was 

" We must be going now," Caeilte said. Patrick enquired : 
"and what way is that [i.e. in what direction]?" "I remember, 
saintly Patrick, that for dread of the tuatha dé danann nor 
crowd nor host had dared sit upon these three tulacks:'* — 

Caeilte ceciniL 
"Tulachs three I bear in mind, that feel not age nor fade away; over 
which the * grey one of three antlers * used to course from their one border to 
the other. Three churches too I have in memory, that once were holds of a 
good lord ; within them was then no voice of bell, but rather the * wizard's 
knot ' surrounded them. Caeilte is my very name indeed : a captain of the 
truthful Fianna I have been ; when we had to cross the glen we used not to 
make any halt. Finn the Fian-chief, when he was in life, would not endure 
to have the flighty young buck with the sprouting horn to bell over his capacious 
camp. I and Flann son of Failbhe, we used * to redden ' [i.e. hack and hew] 
many heroes of the Leinster men ; this is my conscience verily [i.e I affirm it 
on my conscience], that many a battle I bear in mind." 

The Colloquy. 125 

And so the company, laSen with their burdens of the chase, ^^^^ 

With a look that Caeilte threw around the mountain on his 
left hand he saw a fort, a fair town. He said : " on my conscience 
we never knew a fort to exist yonder ; let us then make over for 
the town." 

They took their way to the dwelling accordingly, but it was an 
amazement to them not to see either crowd or throng there but, 
[instead of that], nine she- and three men-slaves. Into a private 
bower apart that was in the town they entered, where were two 
women and they weeping and mourning. Here they were fed 
and ministered to, their travelling and wayfaring gear was taken 
from them, and Caeilte enquired of the women what fort this 
might be. " It is that of the chief of Fermoy's two sons : Lochan 
and Eoghan their names are." " And why are ye gloomy and 
melancholy?" "Good cause we have: we, that ourselves are 
two sisters, belong to two brothers ; our husbands are gone to- 
night to bring home [other] wives, and of our stay in the fort 
therefore there remains no more than till such time as our 
husbands shall return, and new wives with them. With a glance 
that Caeilte threw around him and into the inner part of the fort 
he perceived a huge mass of stone which a confidential warrior 
to Finn had once : Senach mac Maeilckro^ of Finn mac Cumall's 
original people. Now this mass was so, that all whatsoever 
wage Finn had ever given to Senach (thrice fifty ounces of gold, 
thrice fifty ounces of silver and three times fifty ounces of white 
bronze) was shut up close, with said rock of stone covering them. 

Caeilte said to the women then : " were I to succour and relieve 
you, and to bring you back your husbands, what fee would ye 
give me?" They replied: "had we but any fee in the whole 
world that might be pleasing to thee, we would give it thee." 
" Verily ye have such : that vast lump of stone at the fort's farther 
side." "Alas for thee to say it! for the whole country's multi- 
tude was occupied with putting of it in the site in which it is, 
and the setting of it fair took all their effort; yet shouldest thou 
alone [as it would seem] be able to control it!" "Myself it is 
that will be deceived in it," said Caeilte, " should I not be able." 
" It shall pass [i.e. is hereby conveyed] from us to thee, and with 
benediction," said the women. 

^ -1 \ 


126 The Colloquy. 

^*f Then he came forth of the town, and took back his right 

hand's fill of special fairy herbs known to him as having been 

had by the queens and noble ladies of the Fianna. These he 

g^ve to the women ; who washed in a bath made of those herbs, 

and this compelled their own husbands to their love, insomuch 

that the wives whom they had brought home they dismissed 

away back again. The great stone was made over to Caeilte 

and he said : — 

" O stone of belach átha / . . ." 

There, in that place, Caeilte abode and was well tended and 
ministered to. Early on the morrow he rose, and gave the flag- 
stone a wrench towards him out of the earth. They came along, 
and so to finntulach which to-day is called Ardpatrick, where 
Patrick was. He questioned: "where wast thou last night, 
Caeilte?" and Caeilte told him the story from first to last 

Not long had they been there when they marked seven that 
drew near them. Patrick said: "whence are ye come, young 
men ?" " Out of the province of Connacht to the northward." 
"What hath set you in motion?" "From Connacht's gentles 
we come to fetch thee, holy cleric, to convert us (both man and 
woman) to thy Gospel." Patrick said then : " it is not right that 
the Church make any lagging but to disseminate it" 

Patrick with his people set out, and away they came from the 
southward: through mid-Munster, past luimnech uladh, Intofid/i 
na gcuan which is called *Cratlow;* into sliabh aidhidin righ^ into 
sliabk Echtge or 'the mountain of Echtge' daughter of Nuada 
Silver-arm; by cuaille Chepáin in Echtge \ the place in which 
Cepan mac Morna fell; past loch na b6 girre which is called loch 
Gréine or ' the loch of Grian' daughter of Finn ; into the brecthir^ 
which at this time is called tir Máine^ i.e. 'the land of Hy-Many' 
or *0'Kelly*s country;' past loch linnghaeth which is called loch 
cróine. There Muiredach More mac Finnachta king of Connacht 
was, expecting Patrick ; whose tent was now spread over himself 
with his clerics. The chiefs of Connacht's province came then, 
made obeisance to Patrick, and laid their heads in his bosom. 

As for the saint, he issued out of the tent and sat on a sepulchral 
mound compact of sods ; Caeilte came with him, and said : " here 
it was, holy Patrick, that Oscar fought his first battle." Patrick 
asked : " what cause had he ?" " Soon said : it was about Niamh, 

The Colloquy. 127 

daughter to Fergus Finn's son Aedh Donn king of Ulster, that 
was betrothed to Aedh son of Fidach son of Finn tan, but was given 
to the king of Connacht's son. Which latter was not of numbers 
sufficient to stand a battle with Oscar and the Fianna, until from 
him to Conn's grandson Cormac, king of Ireland, had been sent 
a petition craving reinforcements in large quantity; and Cormac 
despatched with him the four [remaining] provinces of Ireland, 
to give battle to the Fianna. On this spot then the fight was 
fought for the girl, and Oscar's maiden exploits in that battle 
were these (as Finn said) : — 

" * Rise up, Oscar ! be it known that thou art [of] the true stock : sufficient 
[i.e. formidable] as is the stature of the good men arrayed against thee, never- 
theless relieve us of a hundred of their heroes ! Go through them and over 
them, that their trunks be shorn headless; take the resonant green shield, 
and take the sharp sword! From the weaponed warrior that shall have 
wounded thee win shield and win spears ; win mail — may it serve thee — may 
they not boast thy trophies! A great event for me in the presence of 
witnesses is the devoting of my babe at his nine years completed ! There 
has not, there never will, come one more excellent whether of hand or of oath 
[i.e. of greater deeds, of veracity more pure] ; there is no spearshaft that shall 
bore farther into a human. Woe to him upon whom with keen sword he 
shall charge, when once his arm's wrath is roused — his that when he stands 
up rages!'" 

Then Caeilte said : — /, 

"Oscar's maiden deeds victorious were: the towering haughty king of 
Ulster slain ; Leinster's king, without any cavil, and Connacht's hardy king 
likewise. To him came then, after that, Aedh mac Fidach mac Finntan; 
but him he leaves without a head — seldom is hand-to-hand set-to so tough. 
Aedh Donn son of Fergus Finn — Ulster's king with the deadly point — by 
dint of shield, of sword so hard, Oscar killed at the same time. Baedan mac 
Femarb, the virulent, that Leinster had for impetuous king — sufficient though 
his daring were — ^he killed at the one instant of time. Handsome kingly 
Oscar's own condisciple, that was gentle, that was prudent: Linne mac 
Lighne, who had deeds to show, Oscar slew in error. To view the battle 
Niamh of the many-coloured vesture came: the battle's rout bursts full upon 
her, and the tenacious queen is slain. Patrick that possessest truth, in this 
matter I tell thee that Oscar's royal fury was prodigious, and that his 
maiden exploits were not small." 

"Success and benediction, Caeilte!" Patrick cried, "and where 
is Brogan? be that tale written down by thee, so that to the 
chiefs of the world's latter time it prove a diversion." And 
Brogan penned it. 

" Good now Caeilte, my soul," said Patrick : " what [Le. whose] 

128 The Colloquy. 

grave is this on the hill upon which we stand ?" " Soon said," 
Caeilte answered : "a warrior of the Fianna of Ireland that met his 
death there, Airnelach mac Admallan, the king of Leinster's son. 
For a man of verse came hither with a duan for him [i.e. composed 
on or addressed to him] and : * it is well, man of verse,' he said, 
* grant me so long grace until I have by me my jewels and my 
treasures.* The man of verse replied : ' truly, and by my word, I 
will not ; but if I be not gratified will in this very day lampoon 
and satirise thee.* When the other heard that, he laid his face 
to the earth ; nor ever lifted up his countenance [but kept it so] 
till he died for shame. The green-surfaced tulach was closed 
over him, his stone was reared over him ; and 'tis against it thy 
back is now, holy Patrick." The saint said : " Heaven, and his 
release from torment, be to him from me in recompense of his 
sense of honour." In which very hour his soul came out of pain, 
and in form of a white dove sat over Patrick on the pillar-stone. 
Patrick enquired: "and who, Caeilte, is in this the tulach's 
southern end ?" " Salbhuide, son of Feidhlecar king of Munster, 
that perished there in pursuit of a fairy deer: his number being 
thirty deer-hounds, thirty servitors, thirty warriors [who also 
died with him]; and the tulach was walled up on them." Ut 
dixit Caeilte : — 

"In this end to the southward is Salbhuide's son, of the poets : fifty con- 
ghlanns of white silver were not accounted for a puny treasure." 

I <)'H^^ Benignus said: "we would fain get at these precious things." 
" Thou shalt have that same," Caeilte said ; and opened the grave, 
in which was his spearshaft's full depth of rings and bracelets. 
Quoth Benignus again : " to the man of a while ago thou grantedst 
Heaven for his honour's sake ; and now for his valuables [here 
revealed to us] give Heaven to that other warrior [whose they 
were]." Patrick said : " it shall be granted." 

Then Patrick enquired of Caeilte : " what was it that brought 
you, all the Fianna as ye were, to naught ?" He made answer : 
"the two battles which we fought last, the battle of Gowra 
namely, and the battle of Ollarba. Three battalions strong we 
marched to fight the battle of Inverollarba, and saving six 
hundred of us none came off ; neither had Finn's spirit, whether 
in battle or in fray, up to that point ever complained for the 
Fianna. But this time he took heed to the loss of such chiefs, 

The Colloquy. 129 

and lords, and heroes, and champions, and confidential people as 
were fallen in those battalions: — 

" * Find out for us how many we be . . .' " 

"Success and benediction, Caeilte!" said Patrick. 

Then Cainen, son of Failbhe son of Fergus son of Eoghan I ''< T 
More, questioned Caeilte : " where was OlioU Olom son of Mogh 
Nuadat slain?" and he answered that: "on the summit of sliabh 
Claire to the southward he died, of an apoplexy brought on by 
grief; and Sabia daughter of Conn died in Tara, of sorrow for 
Maccon her well-beloved son": thus Caeilte. Cainen enquired 
again : "and where was Ferchis mac Comain, the poet, killed?" "It 
was a shot of a hardened holly javelin which on the top of sliabh 
crot Ael son of Dergdubh delivered at a stag, but with the same 
slew Ferchis unwittingly." "And OlioU Olom's seven comely 
sons, where died they ?" Cainen asked. Seine Brit it was that in 
the great battle of magh mucrama^ they being routed before 
Maccon's vast gathering, slaughtered them." ^^Ath iselxr^ow the 
smooth wide-spread plain, whence is it?" "Comla Derg from 
cnoc den that wounded Eoghan More's son Fiacha muillethan 
there; whence by rights it is called dth tuisil or ' ford of falling.*" 
And he said : — 

^*Ath tuisil is the ford's name ; to all men this is a cognisance of the 
veritable cause : it was a fall that Connla of cnoc den caused worthy Fiacha 
Muillethan to make." 

" And the battle of samkain^* said Cainen, " by whom was it 
fought, and who perished there ?" " Olioll Olom's son Cormac 
Cas it was that delivered it against Eochaid Red-brow, king of 
Ulster in the north. There Eochaid fell; and there was hit 
Cormac Cas, who for thirteen years lay under cure with his brain 
leaking away from him, and he for that period holding the rule 
of Munster. At dun ar sléibh or ^dún on mountain' he had a 
fort built, a good town, which was so that in its midst was a 
sparkling and translucent loch^well. About the spring he had a 
great and royal house made; but immediately at its brink three 
huge pillarstones were planted and there (with its head to the 
eastward and betwixt said three columns of stone) the king's bed 
was set, while out of a cuach or else a bowl a confidential warrior 
of his people splashed water on his head continually. There 
too he died, and in that fort was laid in subterranean excava- 


130 The Colloquy. 

tions ; whence dun tri Hag or * fort of three pillarstones' by way 
of name is given to it." Then Caeilte uttered a lay : — 

'^ Pleasant assuredly is this dun in the east, which men denominate dun 
Eochaid\ more pleasant still, when once the daylight comes, are Sabia's 
lying-place and Olioll's . . ." 

\'^*^ To return to Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht, he 
had a beloved son: Aedh mac Muiredach. At this juncture a 
goaling match was promulgated by the young lads of Connacht, 
and upon them Aedh mac Muiredach without assistance won six 
goals. He sat down after it, an access of grave and fatal sick- 
ness took him, and there he died. This was told to his people 
and to his mother: Aeife, the king of Ulster's daughter. By the 
women of the province outcry of woe was made on account of 
the youth's demise; and his mother prescribed to lay him in the 
bosom of the Táilchenn : in his bosom namely to whom God had 
granted all Ireland, and power of benefitting all that were in her. 
But the king of Connacht said : " such action were in my sight 
most reprehensible, unless indeed to the Saint himself as well it 
were acceptable." 

Then out of the tent in which the king of Connacht was with 
his attendants (the dead also being there : with a fringed mantle 
thrown over him, and indued with a soft crimson hood) a message 
was sent to fetch Patrick. His mother, his three condisciples 
and his sister, said that they must die of grief for him [///. * of his 
grief']; which when saint Patrick heard he had compassion, and 
his heart yearned towards them. 

A basin of pale gold was brought to the cleric now, with its 
fill of water in it; he blessed the water, and it was transferred to 
an exquisite cuach of fair silver. The holy cleric went, raised the 
soft crimson hood, and into Aedh mac Muiredach's mouth poured 
three drops of the water ; at the third drop of which he rose 
sound and whole, drew his hand across his face, and got out of 
bed. At this the whole concourse were joyful and of good cheer, 
and believed in God; they laid their heads in Patrick's breast, 
and invested him with all power over them from great to small. 
Throughout that night they tarried there; next morning they 
quitted the town, and all together went on their way : into gann- 
magh^ which now is called magh Finn\ into tócharan bhanchuire^ 
which at this time men call tóchar Ftn?i\ right hand to ros na 

The Colloquy. 131 

fingaiUy which now is named ros comdin or ' Roscommon ' (the 
occasion of its having been called ros nafingaiU being nine sons 
of Uar mac Idhas that slew each other there), and past rath 
Ghlais which now men style rath Brénainn, There the king of 
Connacht's tent was pitched : Patrick and Caeiltc came and sat 
on a sodded mound that dominated the rath's outer limit; the 
king of Connacht with all his company joins them, and they sit 
down by Patrick and by Caeilte. 

Then Muiredach mac Finnachta questioned Caeilte : " whence 
is rath Ghlais applied to this rath ?" " I will tell you," Caeilte 
said : " it was Glas, son of Drecan king of Lochlann, that with a 
force numbering twenty-five battles came to win Ireland's royal 
power; the point at which they arrived being the cathair [i.e. 
'cahir' or 'stpne fort'] oi Damh dilenn^ now called dun rosarach. 
Now at this particular season Finn mac Cumall was in Abnha of 
Leinster." Here Muiredach enquired of Caeilte: "why was the 
place named AltnhaV^ Caeilte replied: "a warrior of the tuatha 
íié Danann that lived in the teeming glittering brugh: Bracan 
was his name, and he had a daughter that was still a virgin : her 
name was Almha. Cumall son of Trénmór took her to wife ; in 
bearing him a son she died, and this green-surfaced tulach was 
closed in over her. From her therefore it is designated now; 
whereas until then it had been tulach na faircsena^ i.e. *the 
look-out liill.' Or else it is that Almha was his name that had 
it in Nemhed's time. Or yet again it is that there Nuada the 
magician made a fort and place of strength, from which fortalice 
he produced an almha or *herd of kine,' whence Abnha [the 
place-name]." And Caeilte said : — 

" Leinster's Almha — the Fianna's liss — the town which Finn most bounti- 
ful made his resort: here follows, according to every antiquary, that from 
which the name is taken. Almha was the man's name that in Nemed's 
time possessed it with vigour and with fame ; upon the green hill yonder he 
expired of a sudden and immediate plague. A warrior of the Firbolgs that 
was no fool — luchna was the warrior's name — both east and west the fort was 
full of his cattle, of his herds. His droves, impelled by thirst, went to a well 
to drink water ; such was the urgency of their drouth that they all fought and 
left their horns behind them. From these horns of the kine (that were some 
white, some flecked with other colours) which they had left about the uardn- 
well — from that, I say, we now have here [the place-name] adarca bo adbal 
luchna or *the horns of luchna's mighty kine.' Daughters ^v^ had lofty 
luchna : that warrior skilled, and cheery, yet vehement [at need] ; from 

K 2 

132 The Colloquy. 

whom it was that all the countries which they occupied extended far and 
wide [in course of time]. Cartnann in Carmann's rough land, with whom for 

a season bards abode ; Tregcis wife in his potent house 

Liifey's plain of golden hue was that deft, fair, and tall young woman's share 
(as I opine this is no perverted lore), and the fifth daughter was Altnka 
that was seated here. Nuada the wizard, an ill-conditioned fellow : by him 
a strong high dun was made in Altnka^ with bright crystal for his spacious 
fort's stockade. Pure white all over the dun was, as though it had had all 
Ireland's lime ; from the altnha or ' herd ' that he brought from his man- 
sion : from that, I say, the name of Almha cleaves to it." 

f . <^ " Well hast thou told that tale, Caeilte," said Muiredach mac 


Caeilte resumed : " where we were then [at the point where you 

broke me off namely] was in this same Almha of Leinster, and 

thither intelligence of that invading fleet came to us: she that 

brought it being Spré aithinne or * Firebrand-spark,' daughter of 

Mughna mucraesach^ and the king of Ireland's she- runner. To 

Finn was summoned his own she-runner, to gather and to muster 

both Ireland's and Scotland's Fianna. Conn's grandson Cormac 

the king got together the tuatha of Tara, the bands of Bregia, 

and the great general army of all Ireland; and so they came 

hither, to this place, five-and-twenty battles strong. Between the 

Fianna and the settled [i.e. non-nomadic] folk lots were cast, for 

the determining to which of them it should fall to engage the 

allmarachs or * over-sea men ' ; and the Fianna's chance it was to 

y open the battle. Every day to a week's end a fight was fought; 

fifteen hundred allmarachs and éirennachs were slain, and then 

the main battle was delivered ; in which Glas fell by Finn mac 

Cumall, and his seven sons by the Fianna. Thrice fifty warriors 

in number we marched with Finn to fight that battle, and by 

each one of us fell fifty fighting men. Three of us, of the Fianna, 

entered into the tent in- which Glas mac Drecan was; there we 

found nine columns of gold, the smallest one of which was in 

bulk equal to a three-ox yoke. These we hid in this red moor 

northward of the rath, and here Glas mac Drecan was laid under 

ground. From him therefore this rath is called rath Ghlais, 

Patrick exclaimed: "victory and benediction, Caeilte, 'tis a 

good story thou hast told us ! and by thee, Brogan, be the same 

written." And Brogan wrote it. For that night they tarried 

there, and on the morrow rose early ; they came away into roe 

carpait Fergusa^ Le. *the place, or arena, of Fergus' chariot,* 


The Colloquy. 133 

which at this time is called iomaire mete Chonrachy i.e. 'mac 
Conrach's ridge'; touching cnoc na rígh^ i.e. 'hill of the kings,* 
now named uardn nGaradh or * Garadh's «arrfw-well/ where they 
halted and pitched camp. His tent was spread over Patrick; 
then he sang his hours. He blessed that rare hill with the 
beautiful sides, and said: "this shall be the eighteenth burial- 
ground that I shall hold most dear in Ireland [i.e. it shall be 
dearest in the eighteenth degree}" " What is the most unfortu- 
nate thing [i.e. the great objection to it] is that it has no water 
in its vicinity," said the king of Connacht. 

Then Patrick rose and drew near to a jutting rock which he ^l.'z^y 
perceived just in the outskirts of the spot in which they were, /) 
and into the same thrust his staff so that it impinged on the /( 
ground and substratum underlying it; whereupon three jets of/ 
pellucid water burst out of the rock. Benignus cried : " Endow 
the well, holy Patrick!" "Prophylaxis for a certain space to 
every one that shall drink its water," said Patrick : " also by good 
leave of the Creator all Ireland's wells to fail in the world's latter 
time, and all Ireland to be comforted from this one well ; yet 
again : this water to be thrice administered to any man, and 
there is no distress that may afflict him but it will relieve." 

" Tell us a story, Caeilte," said Patrick. " A story I will tell 
thee of a case in respect of which the Fianna of Ireland, both 
man and dog, had well-nigh perished upon this very hill on 
which thou art, as thus: Gtiaire Goll and Flaitlies were Finn's 
two bearers of the chess-board, and to play a match with Guaire 
upon this tulach came a warrior: Finn Bane, son of Bresal king 
of Leinster. Guaire Goll said : * I will play with thee for a stake.* 
Finn Bane asked: *what stake?' 'Three ounces of gold from 
each of us.' Now as a matter of fact Finn Bane was third best 
chess-player in the Fianna, coming as he did after Finn mac 
Cumall and Diarmaid ua Duibhne^ but before Flaithes called 
faebrach or 'sharp-edged,' the gilla na fidchille or 'lad of the 
chess-board,' and Guaire Goll his fellow. These two therefore 
played for three days, during which Guaire won not a single 
game, and his stake lapsed from him. On the other then he 
heaped insult and abuse: saying that in gilla-á\x\.y he was no 
gilla^ in military service no warrior, and in weapon-skill no man- 
at-arms. Finn Bane raised his hand and lent Guaire a fist so 

134 ^^^ Colloquy. 

that out of his upper gum he knocked three front teeth and 
made Guaire to fall flat across the chess-board [dead]. This is 
reported to Finn, and he orders to kill Finn Bane with his 
people. Ossian however said: *by my word he shall not be 
killed, but referred to the judgement of Caeilte, of Dermot, and 
of Fergus called * True-lips* that to thee, Finn, is oUave in chief 
of the Fianna.' Which three delivered their judgment, and to 
this effect: * wheresoever thou, Finn, shalt encounter Finn Bane's 
gilla, give him a fist ; thou shalt have a donation [i.e. a solatium] 
moreover: from every leader of Ireland's Fianna an ounce of gold.' 
Thus peace was made by them. 

" At twenty years' end we came to coill choitnéta^ i.e. * wood of 
safe keeping,' in the land of the úi Tairrsigh of Leinster: now 
called *Drumcree.' The Fianna proceeded to hunt, and left behind 
there a warrior of their number to safeguard the women ; his name 
was Garadh mac M6ma, and his condition this : that the major 
part of his life was past, and his kinsmen all were slain. The 
women said to him : * come on, Garadh, hast thou a mind to play 
chess with us?' *By no means,' he. answered. *What means 
this?' the women said again. Garadh began : *one day that we 
were at tulach na righ or * the hill of kings,' and at loch an éin or 

* the bird's loch,' in the province of Connacht ' and so told 

them the story, which is this that ye have just heard, holy 
Patrick. A woman of them said then : * the very purpose for 
which Garadh was left behind with us, was it not to make fire 
for us and to play chess with us, because he is gone off his lusti- 
hood and his spear-throwing, and because the condition in which 
he is is that of old age?' But Garadh said: *this, by my word, 
is an utterance of women that are hostile ; neither, how long 
soever I should persist in fellowship with the Fianna, would they 
ever be firm friends to me.' 

" Then in the bruidhen he kindled a great fire, came out himself 
bringing his arms with him, shut to the seven doors that were to 
the dwelling, and chanted at them an old rhyme: — 

" * Lovely women of Finn's Fianna, play ye now chess for yourselves : the 
sapient king's junior ones are ye ; I am a senior, and my play is old. The 
burthen of age weighs on me, wear and tear of my antiquity ; I am coeval 
with your fathers, and every sting that vexes me is but rendered the more 
keen by this : that at an age such as mine I should have been marked out to 
play with you. A day at loch an éin I have in memory (an ancient man 

The Colloquy. 1 3 5 

without an ancient legend is amiss) in which well-nigh took place the slaughter 
of them all, through quarrel begotten of a certain match. Guaire, Finn's 
gilla^ and Bresal's son Finn Bane held at the chess-board scientific play, 
whence a contention sprang. Finn Bane as a player was better than Guaire 
ixoTCiglas bemann\ Finn Bane won four games, and Guaire but a single one. 
Against Bresal's green-mantled son huge anger grows in Guaire now; evil 
things he says to him in earnest, all for his straight and honourable play. 
Finn Bane's shame is very great, and speedily he lifts the hand ; so that from 
Bresal's winning son a iist landed on Guaire's mouth. Up rise the splendid 
Fianna, the generous, the famous, the all-valorous ; it was a vexation to them 
to have the Chiefs gilla stricken for a paltry cause. Up rise, I say, with one 
accord Finn Bane's Fianna and Finn mac Cumall's ; Caeilte's Fianna and 
Conan's, Ossian's and Ferdoman's. Then it was that Finn himself said: 

* see outside, my stalwart potent son, wherefore the Fianna's anger kindles — 
what may be their uprising's cause.' [But here a man of Finn's comes in and 
cries :] * Guaire thy gilla^ O Finn, a young man that was bearer of thy chess- 
board : no valid cause is that for which his slaughter by mac Bresal stands 
effected!' * Be mac Bresal seized,' quoth Finn, *nor ransom-gift accepted in 
his stead ; neither be Ossian, Dermot, Caeilte, for a protection to him in the 
cause.' Ossian spoke then : * by thine hand, O glorious Finn — by thy nobility 
and by thine honour — slain mac Bresal shall not be because he chanced 
into a broil. Father, O son of Cumall, stand fast by thy wisdom ! straight 
judgment it is that befits a prince, not blustering words of menace. Were it 
we here that lacked self-restraint, from thee it is our admonishing should 
emanate : thy finger submit to thy knowledge-tooth ; pass not rash judgment 
resting on one-sided evidence. Let take Faelchú^ Fercrom's son and heavy- 
haired mac Bresal's gilla ; if now mac Bresal hath slain Guaire, by thine own 
self be Faelchu killed.' From Cumall of the tender honour's son we come 
away after Finn Bane ; and so bring with us Bresal's son to the Fian-chief of 
Ireland's Fianna. The one Finn — Almhds Finn mac Cumall — then ques- 
tioned of another Finn : wherefore it was that he assaulted Guaire that now 
was gone, was passed away. Finn Bane answered : * Finn ! Guaire thy gilla^ 
a carle that bore thy chess-board, he came at early morning and defied me to 
play one single game. Four games then I won on Guaire son of Beobertach ; 
but because this was an irritation to him — ^and through anger — he * scalded 
me,' gave me vituperation. By reason that in presence of all Ireland's Fianna 
he inflicted on me stiff contumely : I was no gilla — I was no laech — when the 
pinch came no óglaech was I — I lift up my straight right arm (no indiligence 
I make about it) and deal a fist across his mouth — nought tell I but a truth- 
ful tale.' 'A blessing on the arm that gave it to him,' Ossian surely said: 

* thy gilla^ Finn of the chiefs — not causeless is the slaying of him found to 
have been. Unless thou readily forgive the fist, Fian-chief, it shall be com- 
pensated to thee : a screpal of gold from each man of us thou shalt have — 
wrongful it were now shouldst thou persist not to give ear to us. But if this 
[that I have set forth] please thee, belike 't will serve to check thy gillas in 
their ill-demeanour : Guaire, Coman, active Saltran, that practise to rail at all 
Ireland's Fianna. Guaire reviled Finn Bane; Coman has upbraided Glas; 
and more preposterous than aught that can be told is how the flippant Solam 
castigated Ferdoman. Finn mac Bresal from rath chró — if to this gilla he 


136 The Colloquy. 

have given a fist : O Chief possessed of many polished drinking-horns, give 
thou too a fist to mac Bresal's gillaV * Take thou my blessing, and to thine 
own house repair [in peace],' said Finn to Finn son of Bresal : * it was the 
guerdon of that which Guaire himself had uttered — outrageous speech must 
have outrageous blow.' Finn Bane made answer : * chief of the Fianna, 
holders of the naked edge, the boon I crave of thee is this : that from this 
day forth and for ever it be not use and wont for the^/7/a to *give language' 
to the óglaech^ Then hand to hand we, Fianna of high-punctilious Cumall's 
son, took oath that any gilla who would not show deference must not pre- 
sume to continue in Finn's Fianna. 'Tis I to-night am gilla to you and, 
womanfolk, I yield you reverence; [besides] I have passed my word of a 
good warrior that never would I strive with womankind. How long soever 
we may be together, O womanfolk of Almhcis Finn — so long as I live and 
have my memory — women, I will not play with you!'" 

Patrick said : " success and benediction, Caeilte ! grand lore 
and knowledge is this thou hast uttered to us." 

Then the whole company rose and moved on to the cairn 
of Fraech son of Feradach \cam Fraeich i.e. 'Carnfree'], and 
Patrick went up upon the eminence. " Good now, Caeilte," he 
said: "believed ye in the Kiqg of Heaven and of Earth, or indeed 
knew ye that He existed at all?" To which Caeilte makes 
answer: "the Fian-chief knew it; for he was a magician, and a 
seer, and a prince. We all also, through one night's deadly event 
that we witnessed, understood that there was a God." "And 
what was that event?" "A great household that the king of 
Ireland — that Cormac son of Art — had : ten score sons of kings 
(of whom was none but was a king's son and a queen's as 
well), and at ros na righ north-east of áth na Bóinne or 'the 
Boyne's ford' they used to be." "What ros is that?" queried 
Patrick. ^^ Ros cailledh (for of every kind of tree there are a 
a thousand there), and there these youths had a vast and regal 
mansion ; but their victual was never otherwise than served out 
and brought to them from Tara. One night accordingly there 
they were after banquetting and enjoying themselves ; their beds 
were spread for them, and so they remained for the night. 

" But now came the chief steward of Tara in the morning, 
(Binne .... he was), to speak with the king of Ireland's 
son that was in the bruidhen\ the house was opened before him, 
and how were they but all dead. Hence then we understood 
that the True and most Glorious God existed: the One that 
hath dominion and power over us all." Caeilte said then : — 

The Colloquy. 137 

" Town of the kings — ros Temrack i.e. * Tara's wood' — there 'tis that many 
a time a great household was; upon its slopes with their smooth sward 
throngs of men and horse-herds were in numbers. Ten score so stately sons 
of kings made up that household worshipful ; an equal complement of women 
it was that were there to furnish forth the same. Thus, O noble and pure 
Patrick, this was no long-drawn destruction ; for all together and at once 
they passed away — that company that lived in the one town." 

" Which ten score men, and women as many, were buried in 
that tulachy and therefore from that time to the present its name 
is cnoc an air or ' the hill of slaughter.' As for the wood in 
which they had dwelt, before their [i.e. the other people's] faces 
the earth swallowed up the entire ros\ and by this means we 
apprehended the King of Heaven and of Earth." 

"Victory and benediction, Caeilte!" cried Patrick. 

Then Caeilte said: "holy Patrick, my soul, I hold that to- 
morrow it is time for me to go." "And wherefore goest thou ?" 
" To seek out the hills and bluifs and fells of every place in which 
my comrades and my foster-fellows and the Fian-chief were along 
with me; for I am wearied with being in one place." There they 
abode that night ; next day they all rose, Caeilte laid his head in 
Patrick's bosom, and the Saint said : " by me to thee, and what- 
soever be the place (whether indoors or abroad) in which God 
shall lay hand on thee. Heaven is assigned." 

Then Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht, went his 
way to exercise his royal rule and regimen ; Patrick also went 
his : to sow faith and piety, to banish devils and wizards out of 
Ireland ; to raise up saints and righteous, to erect crosses, station- 
stones, and altars; also to overthrow idols and goblin-images, and 
the whole art of sorcery. 

Touching Caeilte now: on he went northwards to the wide 
plain of lorg an Daghda or * the plains of Boyle' ; across coirrléim 
naféinne^ which at this time is called eas meic Néra or * the water- 
fall of Nera's son'; northwards yet into sliabh Seghsa or *the 
Curlieu mountains'; into bema na gcét^ now called céis Chorainn 
or ' Keshcorann,' and out upon the Corann's level lands. 

Here they heard a great rushing sound that came towards 
them, and with a glance that Caeilte threw around him he dis- 
cerned nine wild stags in swift career. At these they [Caeilte 
and his eight] delivered nine javelins, and so killed the nine 
deer ; whereby they had that night's provision. They pack the 

738 The Colloquy. 

venison on them, and bring it along to eas mete Modaim or * the 
waterfall of Modarn's son/ now called eas dara or * Ballysodare '; 
into crioch an chosnamay which is called crioch Chairbre or * the 
barony of Carbery*; past the rinn or 'point' of Ebha daughter 
of Geibtine mac Morna: the place where a tidal wave drowned 
her ; skirting druim dergy now called druim cliabh or * Drumcliff/ 
and áth an cJiomraic or *the fighting ford/ now called áth an 
daimh ghlais or * the grey stag's ford/ Thence they held on to 
kcht na muice or *the swine-grave/ where once the wild pig 
killed Duibhne's grandson Dermot ; and to the tulacKs top 
where leaba Dhiarmata^ * Dermot's bed/ is. There Caeilte laid 
his weapons .on the ground, and himself lay down on his dear 
comrade's grave and place of rest. Copious and very lamentable 
tears he wept, so that both breast and chest were wet with him, 
and said: "alas that my companion is gone from me!" From 
y mid-day till the end of the day's waning they tarried there and : 
" friends," he said, " woe is me ! with grief for Dermot and for 
his children I could be fain nevermore to depart from this the 
place in which they recline!" Failbhe said here: " how now, had 
-Dermot sons ?" " He had so, and here are their names: — 

" The names of brown-haired Dermot's sons by the daughter of Conn's 
grandson Cormac : Finnchad, and Illann, and Uath ; Selbach, Sercach, and 

" That * grey stag's ford ' of which we spoke a while ago, there 
it was that Caeilte coscair Hgh fought with Dithramach son of 
Eoghan's son the Scaly that was king of Munster and mother's 
son [i.e. half-brother] to Finn." And Caeilte said : — 

" In presence of the great and goodly host, hardily they fought a fight of 
two : in their wrath they tore up the very trees upon the path over the grey 
stag's ford. Caeilte it was that hurled his spear at first, such was his pretty 
weapon-play's perfection ; but no more than dismissed it from his hand he 
had, when a well-aimed javelin stuck in hinL His right hand and his left 
foot he shore from vehement Dithramach ; but 'twas his own head that stem 
Caeilte left upon the north side of Drumcliff." 

Thence they proceeded to coill na mbuidhen or * wood of the 
companies/ now called coill Muadnatan or *Muadnait*s wood'; 
over the benn of Muiredach's son Gulban gorty or * Benbulbin ' ; to 
garbhros or * rough-grove,' now daire na damhraidhe 'the deer- 
herd's oak-grove.' There they make a capacious fian-booth for 
- cooking; they roof it in with sedge green in the top, pale towards 

The Colloquy. 139 

the roots, securing it with ties over all, and there the brandering 
and seething of their flesh is effected by them. Says a man 
of them: "is there water near us?" Caeilte answered: "surely 
there is — Ossian's well" "It is a dark night," said the others. 
"Not to me is it dark," said Caeilte: "for in Ireland's five great 
provinces is not a spot in which whether out of rock or out of 
river a cuachXyA is procured but by both day and night I am at»^ 
home there." In his one hand therefore he took a silver cuach^ 
in the other his thick-shafted solid-socketted spears, and walked 
straight to a well. He heard a sound of fluid mouthed, of water 
troubled, and what should be there but a long-flitched boar that 
drank. Into the rivetted well-poised spear's thong he put his 
finger, and at the swine delivered a cast which killed him ; then 
with his cuach still in his hand he brought him away upon his back. 
That night they spent there, and on the morrow went on across 
the falls of Assaroe, so to sidh of Aedh at Assaroe. Here on 
their advent they marked a young man that upon the green-clad 
tulach awaited them : a crimson mantle, fringed, enfolded him ; 
in this, high on his breast, was a silver brooch, and he wore a 
white shield having ornament of interlaced creatures in red gold ; 
his hair behind was rolled into a ball covered with a golden 
cuach ; with a long chain of antique silver he held in leash two 
hounds of the chase ; mighty weapons of weight too, glittering 
blue, he bore. Whenever Caeilte reached him, lovingly and 
warmly the young man gave him kisses three, and on a mound 
he sat down beside him. "Warrior, who art thou?" Caeilte 
asked. " Derg dianscothach son of Eoghan out of the tuatha of 
Usnach abroad, and thine own foster-fellow." " And how goes * 
thy life with thy mother's people : the tuatha dé Dcmann in sidh 
AedhaV* The young man answered: "whether of meat or of 
raiment no item is wanting to us there, and yet : Ligaime licon^ 
Semenn sacaire^ and -5^^ that vf^sgilla to the bromhacs^ which three 
had the worst life of any that were in the Fianna — I had rather 
live their life than that which I lead in the sidh^ " Solitary as 
thou huntest to-day," said Caeilte, " in comar na dtri nuiscedh or 
* the valley of the three waters ' in the south, where Suir and 
Nore and Barrow come together, I have seen thee escorted with 
a great company: fifteen hundred young men, fifteen hundred 
gillasy and women fifteen hundred." Then he said : — 

140 The Colloquy. 

"Of numbers few is this thy hunting, Derg: thou art parted from thy 
Fianna, companions of thy chase ; but art thou well versed in their various 
deaths by violence ?" " Well versed am I in all the places where they fell ; 
for though my gentle hound [and myself consequently] dwell in the sidh^ yet 
is my mind bent on the Fianna. Never yet at any time I was in any spot — 
or cast or north, or south or west — where my time sped more quickly than 
among them, however few their number." 

" Derg, my soul, it is well : which of the Fianna is in this sod- 
built grave-mound on which we are?" "Myself and thou it was 
that buried him," said Derg: "it were but right therefore though 
I knew it" Then he said : — 

" Cuinnscleo the gilla^ son of Atnnscleo . . ." 

" Derg, against whom or what was the desperate and distress- 
ful race run ?" "Against the black horse that Dil mac da creaca 
had," answered Derg: — 

"A black horse Dil mac da creaca had : in all sports that they set on foot at 
the rock which dominates loch Guir [on the Hill of Doon over loch Gur] 
he clean swept off the three prizes of the meeting." 

" Caeilte," said Derg, " in what house were we on the night in 

question ?" " In Cahir mac Ailell's house : he having, upon his 

invitation issued, himself conveyed Finn and the Fianna thither ; 

and in Cahir's house we were for three days and three nights, 

during which our numbers suffered no lack of meat, of fluid, nor 

of any good usage whatsoever." " Gave we him anything at all ?" 

continued Derg. " Finn gave him three hundred cows, as many 

mantles, and three hundred ounces of gold," answered Caeilte ; 

and he said: — 

"Three hundred kine, three hundred mantles, three hundred swords of 
solid temper, Finn gave (as honorarium for his liquor) to Cahir son of AililL" 

Derg questioned again: "who was it that actually gave the 
horse to Finn : was it Dil mac da creaca^ or was it Cahir mac 
Ailill?" " It was Fiacha called muillethan or * broad-crown,' son 
of Eoghan More," Caeilte answered, and said : — 

" * Take thou here the headlong black horse,* quoth Fiacha to the Fianna*s 
chief: *here is my sword with its renown, and for thy charioteer here is 
another horse from me.* Off to the strand that's over Berramhan Finn went 
to make a trial of the black horse ; and three times I ran clear away from him, 
for I was swifter than any [mortal] thing. 

"The horse ran to the strand's westernmost end, and there 
died of over-galloping \lit, * from puff of run '] ; wherefore traigk 

The Colloquy. 141 

an eich dhuibh^ or ' the black horse's strand/ is the name of that 
shore which hitherto had been called tráigh Bherranthain or 
* the strand of Berramhan.* " 

Caeilte said again : " 'tis the latter end of day that is here now ; 
for the beautiful histrous clouds of day are gone, and the night's 
dark shades are come to us." 

Then for the purpose of telling Ilbhrec of Assaroe and Aedh 
minbhrec son of the Daghda all about Caeilte, Derg dianscothach 
passed over into the sidh and related all his colloquy from the 
time when first Caeilte came up to him until that instant hour's 
date. " He must be brought into the sidhy^ they said, " for we 
have heard of his honour and of his prowess." Derg went to 
fetch him, brought back himself with his people, and in the sidh 
they were set down in their rightful and befitting places. That 
was just the time when between Lir of sidh Finnachaidh and 
Ilbhrec of Assaroe there was great war. There used a bird with 
iron beak and tail of fire to come and perch at a golden window 
that was in the sidhy and there every evening shake himself till 
he would not leave sword on pillow, nor shield on peg, nor spear 
on rack without bringing it down about the sidh-lo^s heads. 
These used to hurl missiles at him, but what happened was that 
every cast would land on the head of some boy, or woman, or ^ 
fosterling of themselves. That night of Caeilte's entrance their 
banquetting-house was set in order ; the same bird arrived among 
them and wrought the same destructive mischief They of the 
sidh fell to throwing at him, but could not effect the least thing 
against him. Caeilte enquired : " how long is the bird carrying 
on in this fashion?" «.Derg answered: "for the space of a year 
now, since we and they of the other sidh went to war." 

Then Caeilte put his hand inside the rim of his shield and 
produced thence a copper rod that he had, with which he made 
a throw at the bird so that he came tumbling down to them and 
lay on the sfdh's floor. " Did ever any do casting better than 
that ?" asked Ilbhrec. Aedh minbhrec of Assaroe enquired : " was 
there in the Fianna one that at throwing was equally good with 
thee ?" " My word I risk for it," Caeilte answered, " that no one 
of them above another had any right to brag ; for in every man 
of them was his full sufficient complement of martial vigour and 
of marksmanship, and so too there was in me." 


142 The Colloquy. 

Hereupon Ilbhrec reached up his hand and from its rack took 
down a sharp javelin with sheeny angles, which he put into 
Caeilte's hand, saying: "Caeilte, my soul, examine now what 
spear is that, and which of the Fianna he was that owned it." 
Caeilte took from the javelin its shoe and its wraps, and there in 
its socket were thirty rivets of Arabian gold. ..." That is 
the spear of Fiacha mac Congha ... by means of which it 
was that at the first Finn son of Cumall acquired chief command 
of Ireland's Fianna ; and out of Finnachadh's green-grassed sidh 
'twas brought For it was Aillén mac Midhna of the tuatha dé 
Danann that out of sidh Finnachaidh to the northward used to 
come to Tara : the manner of his coming being with a musical 
timpdn in his hand, the which whenever any heard he would at 
once sleep. Then, all being lulled thus, out of his mouth Aillen 
would emit a blast of fire. It was on the solemn samhain-ddiy 
he came in every year, played his timpan, and to the fairy 
music that he made all hands would fall asleep. With his 
breath he used to blow up the flame and so, during a three- 
and-twenty years' spell, yearly burnt up Tara with all her gear. 
That was the period when the battle of Cnucha was fought, 
in which fell Cumall son of Trenmor. Now he left after him 
a pregnant wife: Muirenn smooth-hair, daughter of Teigue mac 

" Cumall being' gone the Fian-chiefry was made over- to GoU 
mac Morna, who held it for ten years. But a son had in due 
course been born to Cumall, which was Finn ; and up to the age 
of ten years he was [perforce] a marauder and an outlaw. In 
this his tenth year Tara's Feast was made by the king : Conn 
cédchathach or * of the hundred battles ' ; and as all Ireland drank 
and enjoyed themselves in the great house of the Midchuart, they 
never noticed anything until among them appeared there [///. 
'until there arrived to them'] one that was quite a stripling, 
and of varied aspect In presence of Conn of the Battles and of 
Goll mac Morna he sat down, having Ireland's nobles round 
about him in the house. Note that one of the prerogatives 
attaching to the Feast of Tara was that for the space of six 
weeks [///. * a fortnight plus a month '] — so long that is to say as 
men were busied with the Feast of Tara — none might dare to 
broach either feud or cross-feud. The king of Ireland looked at 

The Colloquy. 143 

the youth ; for whether to him or to any other that was in the 
bruidhen the same was unknown. 

" His horn of state was brought to the king then, and he put 
it into the lad's hand. He enquired of him: 'whose boy is 
this ?' * I am Finn mac Cumall, son to the warrior that formerly 
had the Fianna's command in chief and, king of Ireland, I am 
come to procure my friendship with thee [i.e. to be reconciled 
with thee and to enter thy service].* Conn said : * boy, thou art 
a friend's son and son of a man of trust* Then the lad rose and 
as towards the king of Ireland made pact of service and of fealty.* 
Conn took him by one hand, placed him at the shoulder of [i.a 
next to] Art mac Conn, and for a space and season they devoted 
themselves to quaff and to enjoy themselves. 

" Then with a smooth and polished drinking-horn that was in 
his hand the king of Ireland stood up and said: 'if, men of 
Ireland, I might find with you [i.e. among you] one that until. the 
point of rising day upon the morrow should preserve Tara that 
she be not burnt by Aillen mac Midhna, his rightful heritage 
(were the same much or were it little) I would bestow on him.* 
To this the men of Erin listened mute and silent however, for 
they knew that at the plaintive fairy strain and at the subtle 
sweet-voiced notes produced by the wondrous elfin man that 
yearly used to burn Tara, women in the pangs and warriors 
gashed about would fall to sleep. 

" Finn rose now and to the king of Ireland said : * who will in 
thy behalf go security and be sureties to me for the fulfilment of 
this?' Conn answered: *the provincial kings of Ireland, and 
Cithruadh with his magicians.* They all of them enter into the 
bond, and Finn takes in hand to safeguard until the morrow*s 
daybreak Tara with all her substance. Now in the king of Ire- 
land*s retinue was one that to Finn*s father Cumall had been a 
young man of trust: Fiacha mac Congha, and: 'good now, my 
lad,* he said, 'suppose that I furnished thee a certain spear of 
deadly property, and with which no devious cast was ever made, 
what guerdon wouldst thou give me?' 'What fee demandest 
thou of me?' 'Whatsoever prosperous result thy right hand 
wins at any time, one-third of it to be mine ; a third part more- 
over of thine innermost confidence and privy counsel [i.e. of thy 
three most privy counsellors I to be one].' 'It shall pass for 

144 '^^^ Colloquy. 

thee [i.e thou shalt have it]/ Finn said, and under his word took 
on him the obh'gation. Then Fiacha prescribed: 'whenever 
thou shalt hear the fairy melody: sweet-stringed timpan and 
dulcet-breathing tube, from the javelin's head strip its casing and 
apply the weapon whether to thy forehead or to some other of 
thy parts ; so shall the noxious missile's horrific effect forbid that 
sleep fall on thee.' 

" Then in presence of all Ireland Finn rose to ward Tara ; 
unknown to the sons of Morna or to any other that was in Tara's 
mansion mac Congha gave him shield and spear, and he made 
the complete circuit of Tara. He was not long before he heard 
a plaintive strain, and to his forehead he held the flat of the 
spear-head with its dire energy. Aillen began and played his 
timpan till (as his use was) he had lulled every one else to sleep, 
and then to consume Tara emitted from his mouth his blast of 
fire. But to this Finn opposed the crimson and fringed mantle 
which he wore, so that [instead of speeding horizontally on its 
mission] the flame fell down [perpendicularly] through the air, 
carrying with it the fourfold mantle a twenty-six spans' depth 
into the earth ; whereby ard na teinedh or * fire hill ' is the name 
of that eminence, and glenn an bhruit or * the mantle glen ' that 
of the glen adjacent When Aillen mac Midhna was aware that 
his magical contrivance was all baffled, he returned to sidh Finn- 
achaidh on the summit of sliabh Fuaid, Thither Finn followed 
him and, putting his finger into the spear's thong as Aillen 
passed in at the sidKs door, delivered a well-calculated and 
successful throw that entered Aillen in the upper part of his 
back, and in form of a great lump of black blood drove his heart 
out through his mouth. Finn beheaded him, carried the head 
back to Tara, fixed it upon a pole of sinister significance, and 
there it remained until rising of the sun aloft over the heights 
and invers of the land. To Aillen then his mother came and, 
after giving way to great grief, went to seek a leech for him : — 

'''A lamentable case, O most admirable she-physician: by Fiacha mac 
Congha's spear — by the fatal mantle and by the pointed javelin — Aillen mac 
Midhna is slain ! Ochone, Aillen is fallen I three jets have spurted from 
him : here is his heart's blood, together with the marrow of his back. Ochone, 
Aillen is fallen 1 fairy chief of benn Boirche : now are the numbing death 
mists come upon him— O Boirche^ O she-physician, 'tis a lamentable case! 
Ochone but he was joyous, and ochone but he was blithe, was Aillen son of 

The Colloquy. 145 

Midhna of sliabh Fuaidl nine times he burnt up Tara, and to gain high 
fanie was his constant endeavour.' 

"Then with their king all Ireland came upon Tara's green 
where Finn was, and he said : * King, thou seest that man's head 
that used to burn Tara; his pipe also, his timpan and all his 
music ; I opine therefore that Tara with all her stuff is saved.* 

" Hereupon the place of assembly was filled by them, and a 
course of action proposed ; the plan finally adopted being to 
confer Ireland's Fian-command-in-chief on Finn. *Good now, 
my soul, Goll mac Morna,* said Conn of the Hundred Battles, 
* what is thy choice : whether to quit Ireland, or to lay thy hand 
in Finn's?' Goll made answer : * I pledge my word that 'tis my 
hand I will lay in Finn's [rather than take the alternative].' 

" By this time the charms used to procure luck and a good 
event had worked, and the chiefs of the Fianna rising struck their 
hands in Finn's ; but first of all Goll mac Morna struck his, to 
the end that others of the Fianna should be the less inclined to 
feel shame at doing so. In which command Finn continued 
until he died ; and where he met his death was at aill an bhruic 
or * the brock's cliff,* in luachair Degaidh. Now the spear thou 
puttest into my hand, Ilbhrec, therewith was that beneficial deed 
done for Ireland ; by its means also it was that Finn ever and 
always had all his fortune, and the spear's constant original name 
was birgha^ or 'spit-spear.'" Ilbhrec said : "keep thou the spear 
by thee, Caeilte, until we learn whether Lir will come to avenge 
his bird upon us." 

Now were their horns and their cups raised, and they ban- 
quetted and had recreation of mind and spirit. * Ilbhrec said : 
"good now, Caeilte, my soul, to whom wilt thou (should Lir 
come to avenge his bird on us) assign command of the battle?" 
" To the one to whom Finn used to commit his battle's chief 
command : to Derg dianscothach yonder." They of the sidh 
questioned: "takestthou it upon thyself, Derg?" He replied: 
" I do, with its pleasure and with its pain." Thus they passed 
that night ; and in the morning were not long before they heard 
blowing of horns, rumbling of chariots, clashing of shields, with 
general uproar of a great host that came on, and it surrounded 
the sidh. Out of this were despatched some to spy out how 
many they were ; and it turned out that they were three valorous 


146 The Colloquy. 

battalions of equal bulk. Said Aedh ntinbkrec: "a sore vexa- 
tion to me is that which will be wrought now : that we must 
violently perish and die, our fairy brugh too to be possessed by 
Lir of Hdh Finnachaidhr But Caeilte said : " knowest thou not, 
Aedh, that from both hounds and wolves the mighty wild boar 
escapes often, and that when the stag at bay is roused \o a last 
desperate charge he likewise escapes scot-free from the deer- 
hounds? and who is he whom, man to man, ye deem most 
formidable in the battle?" "The man that of all the tuatha dé 
danann excels in prowess : Lir of sidh Finnachaidh^^ they 
answered. Caeilte went on : " the thing which ever and in all 
battles I have undertaken, that is to say : hand to hand to meet 
the best champion that should be there, I will not suffer to fall 
to the ground this day." " What single combat dost thou pro- 
mise us, Derg ?" they asked. " Whose encounter is that which 
after the former ye hold to be most arduous ?" " Encounter of 
Donn and of Dubh," they answered. Derg said : " I will manage 
them both." The forces of the sidh came out now to affront the 
battle, and from early day-rise to mid-day either side of them 
plied the other with handily missile darts, with small spit-like 
javelins, with broad- and blue-headed spears and with great 
stones. Caeilte and Lir of sidh Finnachaidh encountered, aggres- 
sively and bloodily, and in the end of the affair Lir fell by Caeilte. 
Then that pair of good warriors: Dubh and Donn, Eirrge anghlon- 
nacKs two sons, advised concerning maintenance of the battle, 
and thus they ordered the fight : Dubh in the van of the phalanx, 
Donn to make vigilant defence in the rear. This move Derg 
dianscothach marked ; into his spear's thong he put his forefinger, 
and at the nearer man of them made a felicitous cast which 
broke his spine in twain and penetrated full into the farther 
one's carcase, so that they perished of the one throw. Ilbhrec 
said now : — 

" By Caeilte Lir is fallen : no deed undeserving of the poean ; by Eoghan's 
son Derg, and with a single cast, are fallen Dubh and Donn. The battle, 
having gone against Lir with his great host, is dwindled away northwards ; 
saving three only that were skilled to make their way from it, not one of 
them is scaped out of the field." 

After victorious spoiling of the enemy and due triumph they 
re-entered into the sídlt^ and thenceforth for ever had forcible 

The Colloquy. 147 

rule and domination over sidh Finnachaidh, Caeilte said : " here 
is thy spear for thee, Ilbhrec." " It is not beseeming for thee to 
say it to me," Ilbhrec answered : " for though upon Lir there 
had been no arms but that spear [to assign as his spoils], yet is 
it to thee it should have fallen, seeing that thou art a very and 
right heir to it" After which for three days and three nights 
they abode in the sidh. 
(^ " Good now, Caeilte, my soul," said Ilbhrec of Assaroe : " where 
was it that Finn believed actually, or did he ever?" Caeilte 
answered: "he did that." "But where? and what was the 
origin of his doing so?" "It was on druint diamliair or ^the 
secret ridge,' which now men call druim da en ox ^ two bird ridge,' 
upon the Shannon ; and the origin of his belief was the rehabili- 
tating of Bodhb's daughter Finnin, who [so 'twas said] had killed 
her own husband, Conan, whereas it was Conan and Ferdoman 
that had slain each other. The Fianna then arrived ^.tfidh énaigh 
or ^ bird wood,' which at this time is named druim diamhair [as 
above] ; a bowl of pale gold was brought to Finn, he washed his 
white hands, splashed the clear water about his face, and under 
his knowledge-tooth put his thumb. The true was revealed to 
him, the false hidden from his ken ; and it was shewn him that 
in the world's later time both the boon-bestowing Táilchenn 
should come, and Kieran mac an tsaoir or 'the carpenter's son' 
found a house [i.e. Clonmacnoise] that should influence half of 
all Ireland." Then Caeilte uttered : — 

" Beloved is the church . . . 

"Thither to us came knowledge of that conflict [in which 
Conan and Ferdoman were fallen] ; there it was that Finn made 
this act of belief, and by the same gained Heaven : — 

" Woe for the Fian-warrior that heard the tidings when we came to sndmk 
dd en : slaughter of Conan tnael from the magk^ Ferdoman's slaughter too. 
Druim diamhcdr^ O druim diamhair^ was this spot's name until the Fianna's 
time ; druim enaigk or *bird ridge* is its name ever since, from Finn's and 
the Fianna's fowling there. ' By His good will that is Lord of all the clans, 
an illustrious offspring 'tis shall be bom there : a worthy son of Heaven's 
King, whom angels are expecting. Kieran the pure he shall be, he it is shall 
be bom in the royal rath ; he likewise shall appropriate half Ireland — son of 
the carpenter out of Murthemny. [They that shall dare to become] spoilers 
of his church shall undergo a sudden death by reddened points of spears : 
torment and execution deplorable, and lowest depth of Hell. I, even I, tell 
you now — ^the prophecy is true for me — I believe in the Father, in the Son, 

L 2 

148 The Colloquy. 

and in the Holy Spirit all in One. Kingdom of Heaven's King [the dwellers 
in which] are better than any other tribe, I hold to exist : the King who hath 
granted me a respite [to this hour in which I believe] will not suffer me to 
fall under eternal woe.' " 

After this again until expiration of six weeks they were in 
the sidhy and Caeilte said : " it is time for us to depart, for we are 
now for a good while here within." " God's benison on thee, and 
that of the people inside here," said the j/á%-folk ; " and though 
it were for everlasting thou shouldst desire to abide with us, thou 
shouldst have it" Ilbhfec said : " since on going thou art bent, 
here for thee are nine gorgeous vestures comprising rich mantles ; 
nine shields too, nine spears, and nine long swords with hilt and 
guard of gold ; nine hounds besides for the pleasant chase." They 
took leave of each other : a blessing the departing left, and car- 
ried away gratitude ; weary as the battle had been, more irksome 
yet to Derg dianscothach it was to part from his own familiar 
and condisciple, for the day in which he was sundered from Finn 
and from all the Fianna he had not found sadder than this. 

With those nine warriors of his Caeilte took his way and 
visited sliabh cuire^ sliabh Cairbre, sliabhe céide to the northward, 
and cathair dhaimh dheirg or * red stag's fort' Soon they per- 
ceived, awaiting them upon a cairn, a brilliant gaily-coloured 
pair : a handsome young man with a lady of his own age beside 
him. Of Caeilte he sought tidings, and Caeilte told him his story : 
'* of Finn mac Cumall's folk am I, and Caeilte mac Ronan is my 
name ; but of what cognomen art thou, warrior ?" " Eoghan the 
princely hospitaller is my name : I am of the former people of 
Cormac's son Cairbre Lifechair; Becnait the she-hospitaller is 
this lady's name : she and I are of equal age, and ten-score years 
we have completed both of us." Caeilte enquired : " hadst thou 
not enormous wealth, young man?" "I had so," he answered : 
'* for from mac Modharn's Assaroe northward to cnocanfhomorach 
or 'the pirate's hill' (which now is styled northern Ireland's torack 
or *Torry Island') were no countries but, as against every second 
or it might in some cases be against every third town of them, I 
had a milch herd." Caeilte asked : " and what did away with 
all that ?" "A thieving monster and most hideous pirate, and a 
' son of mishap,* whom Finn ruined [i.e. utterly discomfitted] once : 
he has wasted seven entire triucha céts^ or 'baronies,' until there 

The Colloquy. 149 

is none to take land or estate ; and these being thus exhausted 
utterly, he has turned all to a desert Me too in sooth he has 
minished and harried, all to seven-and-twenty milch herds of the 
last of my substance that I have still." Caeilte asked : " where 
bides this man ?" "A strong fast rock of a stone that is to the 
north of us here, right on the spacious bay, that is his post ; and 
he being as he is but three in company yet carries off his ship's 
full cargo [of booty and of captives], for he is himself a match for 
four hundred, his hound for three hundred, and his daughter for 
three more ; neither can any hurt them." Caeilte asked : " at 
what point enters he the bay?" "Why, over against the town 
on the north-west." There Caeilte and his tarried for that night, 
and in all respects were served and tended. 

Early on the morrow Caeilte rose alone. He took his sword, 
and shield, and spear, and made his way to the impregnable 
rock beside the bay. Here he was for a space and then saw a 
airach with three in it : a shag-haired dog of a dirty grey, that 
round his neck wore a rude iron chain ; in the curacKs bow a 
great lump of a wench, bald and swart, that from a distance 
loomed like some jutting point of rock and in her hand held a 
substantial spit-spear ; while in the after-part sat the hulking 
carle. Near hand to Caeilte they took the beach, and as they 
came a certain repugnance and fear affected him. The man of 
bulk said to his daughter : " loose the hound and slip him at 
yonder tall man all alone, so that before the dog enters on 
expedition and excursion he may feed his cram-full of him." 
The daughter loosed the animal ; before which Caeilte felt a 
loathing and a timidity which whether in battle or in single 
fight never had touched him yet, and he said : " my Creator and 
my Táilchenn both I put forth against [the three of] you !" Then 
with a small dart of copper that he had he delivered at the 
hound a most careful throw, in such wise that one end of the 
spike-dart stuck in its upper, the other in its lower palate, closing 
its mouth. Then it fell out of the curach, and after all it was in 
the sea's depth it perished. With intent on Caeilte the other 
two came ashore and boldly, hard-heartedly, fought with him. 
From his great toe to his hair the daughter inflicted on him 
thirty wounds ; but to her Caeilte administered a sword-stroke 
with which he let out her very viscera and vitals. Against the 


150 The Colloquy. 

great man now he fought more intensely and pressed him home ; 
with three cuts he made three pieces of him (the third being 
his head) and, when he had taken from them their three heads, 
carried them back to the bruidhen. Eoghan and Caeilte's people 
came, recognised those heads, and gratefully acknowledged the 
deed. Feeble and strengthless Caeilte sat down, and upon him 
fell dimness and stupor-clouds. Balsamic herbs were applied to 
him, and for a fortnight he was under cure ; by which means was 
made of him a smooth whole man without a scar. 

Caeilte said : " we have to depart to-morrow, and a blessing it is 
we leave with you." Next day accordingly they gave Eoghan 
farewell, and thence came away to tulach na gcét or * the hill of 
hundreds,* now called tulach da ech or 'two horse hill'; north- 
ward to «íí7/wj «0:7%*««^ or *the Fianna's rear-fort'; to currach 
na miolchon or * the greyhound curragh,* called currach cuan or 
* curragh of wolves' ; northward still to both chna or 'the nut bothie,* 
where once the poet appeared to Lugh Long-arm mac Ethlenn, 
and where Columkill son of Felim was bom ; northward to daire 
Guill ox 'GoU's oakwood' where, as they issued from the grove's 
edge, they saw a young man with his back leant against a massive 
pillar-stone. He wore a fringed mantle having a fibula of gold 
upon the breast, and [under that] a tunic of soft silk ; two wolf- 
dogs he held in hand, and in front of him were a pack of beagles. 
Caeilte greeted the young man, who returned the salutation and 
enquired : "who is he to whom ye belong?" Caeilte answered : 
" our chief and lord lives no more ; I mean Finn mac Cumall." 

Then the young man wept copious and very lamentable tears 
so that breast and chest were wet with him, and : " who then art 
thou thyself, warrior?" asked Caeilte. "I will proclaim me to 
thee : Donn son of Aedh son of Garadh mac Moma am I." 
" Thy father was good," said Caeilte ; and he uttered : — 

"He was the disdainful one of lasting fame — the Fian- warrior of genuine 
audacity ; he was the productive branch of good repute : one to sweep up 
the whole world's valuables." 

" Good now, Caeilte, my soul : hast thou my father's spear ?" 
asked Donn. " I have even to his shield and his sword," Caeilte 
replied. " By the virtue of thy valour and of thy weapon-play I 
adjure thee tell me the originating cause for which he was slain." 
Caeilte said : " that will I e'en tell thee, for well I remember it : — 

The Colloquy. 151 

" It was Dubhdithre then, chief of Ossory's Fianna, that had 
been slain by thy grandfather, by Garadh mac Morna, and 
carraig Ghuill or ^ GoWs rock' to the westward was taken upon 
Goll mac Morna ; for the three battles of the Fianna besieged 
him there during a six weeks' space, during [the last nine days 
and] nine nights of which he was without sustenance : whereby a 
debility infected his vigour and his spear-throwing. The son of 
Dubhdithre's son Smaile passed into *the rock* [i.e. stone strong- 
hold] now and in view of all Ireland's Fianna took GoU's head, 
which he brought to Finn. Then against Smaile's son thy father 
began to urge law and equity, claiming to have the award due 
in a case between one of chiefs rank and a simple warrior" : — 

Caeilte cecintt. 
"Smaile's son said that to fair-skinned and fortune-favoured Aedh he 
would not tamely yield the thing that was just ; but body to body would give 
him satisfaction for every mischief that his hand had wrought him. 

"Thy father proposed next that between himself and mac 
Smaile a mutual settlement should be permitted. *Aedh,* said 
the latter, ' I will give thee a donation [in atonement],' * What 
donation is that V * I will give Goll mac Morna's two spears ; 
shield of Conbhron's son Cairell ; Dubhdithre's horn, and Muirenn 
of Macha's sword that Goll had, with Sigmall's hunting neck- 
torque.' I too it was," continued Caeilte, " that went with the 
message, in which matter was said : — 

" ' From us to Aedh let messengers arrive : let them say to the noble chief 
that all that which [by way of remedy at law] is promised him shall never never 
be fulfilled. But promise him a certain collar of the chase that out of s£dh 
Nermta once was brought to Finn ; from which no stag (and that without 
ever a shot planted in him from behind a ditch) may scape unslain. Offer 
him Caireirs famous shield which in the cut-and-thrust work he was wont to 
wear ; a grateful treasure is the ubiquitous buckler whose lord embraced the 
terror-striking quality of a hundred men. Offer him the battle-sword that 
Muirenn of Macha had ; Dubhdithre's drinking-horn too offer him, which 
indeed hitherto I have kept hidden : the ransom of fifty slaves from over 
seas there is of gold in its circumference. Offer him certain two darts with 
shafts of very yellow wood [lignum vitae ?] : how little soever the blood they 
draw and wound they make, every man into whom they enter is but dead.' 
Albeit these things I offered them, yet Garadh's children accepted not : such 
was the number of their own separate force in which they trusted — those tall, 
those generous, stem and bloody sons. By gentle Morna's children [formerly] 
fell the virile Fintan from the hazel woods : by Banbh, Sinna, Sciatk brec or 
* spotted shield' the bellicose, and Finn More son of Cuan. But because he 
had slain Goll, eric they demand of wrathful mac Lugach ; of Caeilte with 

152 The Colloquy. 

the trenchant glittering weapon, and of ... . out of Itiachair, A 
warrior of Bregian Tara's tuath that had dared to fight with Goll himself: 
shorn of his head, all becrimsoned, there in the battle (and a manly piece of 
carving 'twas) lay he whose name was * Flaithes the exceeding handsome.' 
Dubhdithre's son, mac Smaile, said again : ' had the accomplished and 
white-handed Goll had fifty sons thrice told, to all such his offspring together 
he had not been more dear than to me only my good father was. My sire, 
impetuous Dubhdithre, wise and most honourable member of the Fianna : 
never in battle was his complaining heard ; his lustihood and spear- throwing 
were good ! Tell the men — for true it is — that nothing else will I concede 
but nine hundred with their backs against his g^ve standing ready for them 
on the tulach toward which they march.' " 

Donn said: "by the verity of thy valour and of thy skill in 

arms, Caeilte, I adjure thee that thou give me my father's 

weapons." "That will I," returned Caeilte, "for he I trow was 

delicately generous to answer a petition." Then Caeilte gave 

him his father's weapons all, and said : " show us now the way, 

Donn." " To what place seekest thou to have guidance ?" " To 

the house of Conall son of Niall, that is king of Kinelconall " : — 

Caeilte cecinit. 
" O Donn ! show us now the way, cheerfully and void of ill intent ; for 
surely thou art all alone: a solitary survivor of thy Fianna, of thy band. 
The sons of Moma are departed —a cause of grief and constant heaviness ; 
ten hundred warriors — that was their complement: a tribe that knew not 
weariness. I tell thee (and all that I say shall come true) that, with much 
silver and gold to boot, of me thou shalt have thy request, O Donn!" 

" Thither then I will go before thee," said Donn : " for he is my 
mother's brother, and he 'tis that has nourished me ; if moreover 
he it be that holds the government, 'tis I that have the reversion 
of it" Donn armed himself now, and took his way to Conall's 
house: to dun na mbarc. Conall mac Neill said: "tell us some 
news, Donn"; and he related how Caeilte had given him the 
arms and even now was on his way to the king. "That [i.e. 
leave and licence to visit me] he shall have," said Conall : " both 
because he is of Ulster, and for all that he hath himself achieved 
of noble deeds." Donn exhibited to him the divers edged and 
other weapons which Caeilte had given him, and : " 'tis of a good 
man," said the assembly, " that those gifts have been had." " A 
good man he is in sooth," Conall assented, " seeing that to one 
better than he the designation of mac ógláich or * son of warrior ' 
never was given yet" Then when Caeilte was discerned draw- 
ing near to the fort, Conall with the gentles of his host and of his 

The Colloquy. 153 

people rose to make him welcome ; Caeilte for his part sets him 
down on a cairn in front of the dún^ and the crowd sit round 
about him. 

Conall questioned Caeilte: "wherefore was this cairn styled 
cam Gairbh daireV* which query Caeilte answered, for he it was 
that knew how : " a warrior of trust to Finn mac Cumall that was 
here, Garbhdaire mac Angus, son of the king of Munster in the 
south ; and as he hunted one day he killed thrice fifty stags, as 
many does, and as many boars. They of the country and of the 
land saw him ; they set on him and violently deprived him of his 
game, of the produce of his chase, while of them he slew three 
hundred men of war. The denizens closed in about him and 
converted him into * an apple on spear-points,' so killing him. But 
we, the three battalions of the Fianna, came up to avenge him ; 
we emptied the whole country, killed its three kings, and others 
of the inhabitants made good their escape into islands: — 

''By spacious Eoghan's race Garbhdaire is slain upon the strand; fifty 
warriors here we slaughtered all in vengeance of Garbhdaire. 

"Now he it is that with his panoply complete is within this 
cairn ; in whose possession was Lugh mac Eithlenn's chain also 
that used to confine the captives of Milesius' sons and of the 
tuatha dé danann'* Conall said : " we would fain have these 
arms." " If it so please thee be the cairn dug into presently," 
answered Caeilte. "Not so, but to-morrow be it opened ; for 
night is here, and in the same 'tis carousal and enjoyment that 
shall occupy us." Hereat they came and entered into the great 
bruidhen ; Caeilte with his people was ushered into a retired and 
sequestered house apart, and there they were well ministered to. 
Now she that was spouse to Conall was Bebhionn, daughter of 
Muiredach mac Finnachta king of Connacht, and Conall said to 
her: "good now, woman: be it long or be it short that Caeilte 
shall be here, be rations for ten hundred given to him daily ; 
also be eight score kine put into a fenced grass field over against 
him, the same to be milked every night for him." 

There they abode throughout that night, and on the morrow 
proceeded to Garbhdaire's cairn. It was excavated, and. Lugh 
mac Eithlenn's chain was found ; the shield also was found 
perfect and whole, even as it had been deposited by his side. 
The weapons were brought up, and the warrior's head : within 

154 '^f^ Colloquy. 

which the biggest man of the assembly found room in sitting 
posture. Conall said: "my soul, Caeilte, it is a huge head!" 
" Huge and good as well was he that wore it," Caeilte answered ; 
and the weapons he made over to Conall, but reserved the chain 
to ^w^ it to Saint Patrick. After which the tomb was closed 

Then Conall mac Neill enquired of Caeilte, saying: "right out 
before us in the sea is an island, and on it a fort ; in this again 
a colossal sepulchre the origin of which we know not." At hear- 
ing this Caeilte wept. Conall went on : " by the reality of thy 
valour and of thy weapon-play I adjure thee and come with us 
to view it" But Caeilte said: "by my word that is the third 
place in Ireland which, after them that have been there, I care 
not to see ; to-morrow nevertheless I will go with thee thither." 

For that night they remain in the dwelling ; next day Conall, 
his wife, and the congregation of the town all rise, for in their eyes 
Caeilte was an augmenting of the spirit and an enlargement of 
the mind. These repair to the dun in which he was, and on the 
grave which it contained Caeilte took his seat : seven score feet 
of Conall's were in its length, and in its width twenty-eight. 
Conall said : " good now, my soul, Caeilte — nought that ever I 
have seen appears to me more marvellous than does this tomb : tell 
us then whose it is." " I will tell thee the truth of it," answered 
Caeilte: " the grave it is of the fourth best one of all women that 
in the one time with herself ever lay with man." Conall asked : 
"and who were those four pre-eminent women?" " Sabia 
daughter of Conn of the Hundred Battles ; Eithne ollarda 
daughter of Cahir More; Cormac's daughter Aillbhe^ called 
gruaidbhrec or * of the variegated [i.e. red and white] cheek,' and 
woman of this grave: Berrach, called brec or * freckled,' daughter 
of Cas Cuailgne king of Ulster in the north and Finn mac Cum- 
all's well-beloved wife. Now if in any one woman of them was 
goodness in excess of the others, 'tis in her it was: in her mansion 
it was that the guest used to be from the first Monday in samh'- 
ain-úde to the first one of spring, and then have his choice 
whether to depart or from that out to stay on there. Any man 
that could not elsewhere get a sufficiency either of arms or of 
clothing would from her have his all-sufficiency of both." Conall 
enquired: "and the cause of her death?" "I have it for thee," 

The Colloquy. 155 

said Caeilte: "it was Goll mac Morna's father and mother that 
brought her up, neither had they any fosterling other than she. 
Finn craved her of her father, who however said that unless it 
were with Goll mac Morna's consent he would not give her to 
Finn. Of Goll then the latter solicits his fosterling, and he made , 
answer: "conditions there are upon which I would bestow her: 
that for all time she never be dismissed ; that she be to thee for 
third wife, and in the matter of aught that irfie may request of 
thee shall never have refusal." Finn said : " it shall be granted 
all." "Who shall be our securities?" "Have thou thy choice 
of such." Finally as trustees for her Finn put in his own three 
foster-sons: Daighre, Garadh, and Conan. She for her part • 
abode with Finn, whereby she brought him three sons : Faelan, 
Aedh beg^ and Uillenn cdWtá faebairdkerg or 'Red-edge*; and 
Finn had her for a loving wife until such time as her foster- 
brethren the clanna Mama turned to be spoilers and outlaws * 
upon Finn, their number being thirty hundred warriors." Ac- 
cording to which Caeilte uttered a quatrain : — 

" Ten hundred and twenty hundred there, that was the bulk of proud clan- 
Moma's rank and file ; over and above which their chiefs' and their chieftains' 
tale was fifteen hundred. 

" The sons of Moma went off to daire tarbdha^ or ' oak-wood of 
bulls,' in the province of Connacht ; there the three battles of the 
Fianna caught them before they were risen out of their camp, and 
in the wood fell fifteen assured and well-weaponed men of them. 
But now came that mighty man of valour, Goll mac Morna, and 
covered their retreat ; after whose taking of this upon him we 
prevailed not to do them any the smallest hurt The clanna 
Mama then came to a determination that they would not spare 
to slay all whosoever they were that in friendship's bonds were 
attached to Finn and to the Fianna ; and he that so counselled 
them was Conan maely or 'the bare,' mac Moma: for he was a 
breeder of quarrel among followers, a malicious mischief-maker V^ 
in army and in host The sons of Moma came along to this 
green-grassed mead, where they considered of what they should 
do to Berrach Brec, to their own foster-child. They prescribed . 
to offer her a condition: she to bring away all her jewels and 
other valuables, to forsake Finn, and that of clan-Moma then she 
never need stand in dread. She when this was conveyed to her 

1 56 The Colloquy. 

cried : * alas ! is it to injure me ye would, foster-brethren of my 
heart?' 'Verily it is/ they answered ; but the woman said: *by 
no means will I to do you pleasure forsake my spouse, my first 
husband and my gentle love !' 

" The sons of Morna in their entire battle-phalanx came to the 
town in which she was ; round about it each put his hand into 
his fellow's, and from every airt of the four they fired it Forth 
of the town issued the queen, having with her thirty of a woman» 
company, but from the dúrCs balcony Art mac Morna marked 
her step on to the white strand and make for her galley ; he put 
his finger into the spear's thong and. sent it at her. The lady 
heard the javelin's hurtling sound, and turned her face to the 
missile ; full in her chest, in her very bosom, it landed and broke 
her spine in two ; thus she died. By her own people afterwards, 
when they had harried the dún^ she was carried up from the 
shore and laid in this grave." Thus Cailte, and he uttered : — 

" Berrach Brec, O Berrach Brec, Cas Cuailgne's daughter, whom I loved : 
she was a queen of yellow hair, a wife she was right worthy a good man. 
Upon the sea-shore she was slain : a deed that surely was not right ; her dun 
was kindled with fire : that was a lawless deed with ill intent. Three hundred 
shields there were within her house, three hundred sets of chess-men and 
three hundred boards ; beakers three hundred for drinking, to which red gold 
had been applied in ornament. Never had she refused the prayer of any ; 
her corporal form was excellent, and her wisdom : there in the very place 
where her venerated grave is, to which men give the name of * Berrach's 

"Under you here then," he continued, "is the woman whose 
sepulchre is this and whose story ye have heard." 

After this Caeilte rose and in a northerly direction skirted the 
town, all following him. He laid his hand upon a huge stone 
that from the dwelling's side projected somewhat, and : " men," 
he said, " take ye hold on one end of the stone and leave me the 
other." The whole company went at it, but availed nothing 
against it. Caeilte said: "where is Donn mac Aedh mac 
Garadh?" "Here am I," he answered. "Go and face me, for 
a hero's and a battle-champion's son thou art ; and should I find 
treasure beneath the stone, to thee I would give its third part." 
Both came and to the stone gave a vicious wrench, determinedly 
and with main strength dragging at it in such wise that they 
landed it fairly on the ground, on the earth's surface, " Success 

The Colloquy. 157 

and benediction, Donn!" cried Caeilte, "better thy help alone 

than all Kinelconall's aid ; and where are Conall, the queen, and 

Donn ?" " Here we are," they answered. ** Enter ye now right 

into the cavity disclosed to you, in which are three vats: one full 

of gold, another of silver, and a vat filled with cuachs^ with horns, 

with cups. But of the precious things give not to me aught 

saving only the craebglUasach — sword of Finn's thigh — and the 

escra or goblet of his hand, that I may present them to Patrick ; 

for in their ornament and chasings are ounces of gold thrice 

fifty, even so many of silver, and three times fifty crystalline 

gems." They as above went all three into the cave and brought 

out their load apiece : one of each kind of treasure ; the whole 

concourse too penetrating into the recess carried off" their glut of 

the same, so that among them all was not a family of nine but 

was amply stocked with silver and with gold. 

At this point his chariot came to Conall, and: "get thee into 

the chariot, Caeilte," he said. "And I stand in need of it," 

answered Caeilte, "for I am wearied in the assembly." They 

mounted the chariot and Conall let his horses have the goad 

westward to tráigh chonbhice^ or *Conbeg's strand,' where he 

enquired : " wherefore is this shore called by that name, Caeilte ?" 

"Soon told," was the reply: "it was a favourite deer-hound that 

Finn had, and not in all Ireland might any stag whatsoever at 

which he was slipped find covert before he would head him off* 

and run him back right up to the Fianna's main pack and to 

their attendants ; neither did hound other than he ever sleep in 

the one bed with Finn. Here it was that Goll mac Moma 

drowned him ; here also that a tidal wave washed him ashore, 

and so he lies under yon green cairn that thou seest abut upon 

the beach." Then Caeilte uttered : — 

" Piteous to me was Conbeg's cruel death I Conbeg of abundant symmetry : 
in wake of wild pig or of deer ne'er have I seen a more expert of foot I A 
pain to me was Conbeg's cruel death ! Conbeg of the hoarse deep note : at 
expeditious killing of the buck ne'er have I seen a more expert of foot ! A 
pang to me was Conbeg's cruel death ! Conbeg drifting on the high green 
seas : his cruel fate, it gave rise to contention ; his death, it wanted nothing 
that was piteous ! " 

That night they came on to dun na mbarc^ and on the morrow 
Conall said : " hard by us here is a ridge {druim Ndir or * Nar's 
ridge' is its name), and in it a swine as against which both 

158 The Colloquy. 

hounds and men are powerless." " I have seen the day," Caeilte 
answered, "that I was a hunter; but where is Donn mac 
Morna?" " Here," cried Donn. "Take then thy weapons, that 
we — so many as we are of the Fianna — ^proceed to hunt the wild 
pig." They went up into the ridge, and there saw the boar with 
nine tusks growing from each jaw of him. At sight of the 
colossal hounds and men the beast screamed, while in his 
presence a certain horror and fear overtook these. "Be it left 
between me and the swine," said Donn, " for whether I live or 
die is all one!" Caeilte said: "a hero's privilege is that thou 
claimest" Donn addressed him to the boar therefore; but as 
the creature charged him Caeilte dealt it a spear-thrust from 
one armhole to the other, and in such wise it perished by them. 
Until Conairs contingent came to fetch the boar they could not 
convey him from the spot ; but then he was brought into the 
presence of Conall, who said : " 'tis a huge swine." " True," said 
Caeilte: "this is the mucsMdngha or * prophylactic pig,' in respect 
of just such another as which it was that the war and feud of clan- 
Morna and of clan-Baeiscne came about" 

Not long they were there before they saw seven that came 
towards them. "Whence come ye, young men?" asked Conall 
son of Niall. " We are come from Calpurn's son Patrick, from 
Finn's son Ossian, and from Dermot son of Cerbhall, to fetch 
thee and Caeilte." The latter said : " after my hunting I indeed 
am impotent to go thither to-day ; but thou, Conall, go and bear 
with thee yonder presents : for Patrick, the goblet that was 
Finn's ; the craebghlasach — Finn's sword — for Cerbhall's son 
Dermot, king of Ireland ; for the same king too (seeing that 'tis 
the prophylactic swine) the boar which but now is killed, so that 
all may see it, and the king divide it to them both high and low." 
Even so was the whole thing carried out : first of all the sword 
was put into the hand of Donn mac Aedh mac Garadh mac 
Morna, Caeilte saying : " until such time as thou reach the king 
of Ireland, both profit and peril of the sword all rest on thee, 
young man !" Conall himself took the escra for Patrick, the 
slaves bore the pig, and they progressed as far as cnoc uachtair 
Erca or * upper hill of Ere,' which at this time is denominated 
Usnach. When they came up where should Patrick be but on 
Usnach's summit, with Dermot son of Cerbhall on his right 

The Colloquy. 159 

hand, and on his left Ossian son of Finn» beside whom sat 
Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht ; by him again was 
Eochaid leitkderg king of Leinster, and next to him Eoghan derg 
mac Angus king of Munster s both provinces, who thus [for they 
sat in a circle] touched the king of Ireland's right hand. 

Now came Conall mac Neill, laid his head in Patrick's bosom 
and made genuflexion to him. Dermot the king said : " come 
hither, Conall"; but he answered : "rather is it in Patrick's pre- 
sence I will be [to serve him], so that as here on Earth so too 
in Heaven 'tis he shall be my superior." Patrick made answer: 
" regal power I convey to thee, and that of thy seed thirty kings 
shall reign ; my metropolitan city and mine abbacy moreover 
I make over to thee, and that thou enjoy all whatsoever I shall 
have out of Ireland's five great provinces." 

Into Patrick's hand Conall put the escra of gold, and said : 
" thine own friend, Caeilte son of Ronan, it is that hath given 
thee that gift." "By my word he is a friend," Patrick said, and. 
passed the escra into the king of Ireland's hand. Long time the 
king scanned it, then said : " never have we seen precious thing 
more excellent than this escra ; and thou, Ossian, consider it well 
whose it may have been." " It was my own father's — Finn mac 
Cumall's — and he gave it to one that was a wife to him : to 
Berrach Brec, daughter of Cas Cuailgne, whom the sons of Morna 
slew. I hold it for a certain thing," he went on, " that he who 
got this found the second best treasure also that was in Ireland 
or in Scotland : where then is the craebghlasach^ Finn's sword ?" 
" Here I have it for the king of Ireland," answered Conall, " and 
'tis a good recognition thou hast made ; go, Donn, deliver it to 
the king of Ireland, for 'tis to him that Caeilte hath assigned it." 
Donn placed the sword in Ossian's hand, and as he did so it was 
seen that the weapon's hilt filled his own grip [i.e. fitted it 
exactly] ; whereupon Ossian said : " that the sword fills thy 
grasp is a wonderment to me ; for never has it filled grip but 
that of a man either of clan-Baeiscne or of clan-Moma." "Whence 
art thou [i.e. what is thy descent], young fellow ?" asked the king 
of Ireland. " I am Donn son of Aedh son of Garadh son of 
Morna." "By my word thy father and thy grandfather were 
good," quoth Ossian : " deliver now the sword into the king of 
Ireland's hand." "What is the sword's fee, king of Ireland?" 

i6o The Colloquy. 

asked Donn. " What fee seekest thou ?" " Ireland's Fian-chiefry, 
even as my grandfather's brother Goll mac Morna had it" " If 
Ossian and Caeilte license it, it shall be thine." " Aye do we," 
Ossian consented, " for my license is Caeilte's ; and the office is 
kind to Donn, of whose stock seven chiefs have held the high 
Fian-leadership of Ireland and of Scotland." " 'Tis thus I confer 
it on thee," said the king : " nor tax, nor tribute whether of gold 
or of silver, such as was paid to every royal Fian-chief before 
thee, to be yielded thee in virtue of it ; but privilege of Ireland's 
chase and venery to be thine." Then Donn took pledges and 
sureties for it, and for a score and seven years filled Ireland's 
and Scotland's high Fian-chiefry : up to the time namely when 
Dubh son of Dolar slew him in the battle of Cuire beyond in 

Lastly the boar was produced before the king of Ireland. 
" There," said Conall, " is the pig which Caeilte and Donn have 
killed and Caeilte presents to thee for distribution among the 
men of Ireland, on the supposition that for a portion of the 
prophylactic swine to fall in their way would be to them for a 
preservation." To the twenty -five battles which all Ireland 
mustered at the hill of Usnach the king portioned out the boar 
therefore, whereby they all were rendered blithe and purged of 
melancholy. Now this was the last prophylactic swine that was 
distributed among the men of Ireland. 

Then Conall More mac Neill said to the king of Ireland 5 
" what ordinance art thou pleased to make for Caeilte if he come 
to seek thee?" "That he is to have the rations often hundred 
warriors ; eight score cows also to be put into a grass field fenced, 
and their produce nightly served to him and to Ossian his con- 
disciple before they lie down." There then they all abode for 
that night and till the morrow's morn. 

To return to Caeilte : for him Conall's horses as we have said 
were harnessed, his chariot made ready, and he took his way 
over the summit of sliabh Fuaid\ past caorthann ban fionn or 
'the rowan-tree of fair women,' which now is called caorthann 
cluana dhd dhamh or * rowan-tree of the two-ox meadow ;' past 
and to the northward of drd an ghaiscidh or * height of the 
prowess-feat,' now named fochard Muirtheitnhne or * the throw- 
ing-place of Murthemny,' where at the hosting of tain bo Cuailgne^ 

The Colloquy. • i6i 

or ' the raid for the kine of Cuailgne/ Cuchullin did his heroic 
casting; northward of dth na carpat or 'ford of chariots/ called 
áth Guill or 'ford of Goll'; by echlasc ech Conculainn or *the 
horse-rod of Cuchullin's horises [i.e. the place where they got the 
goad J' now named lighe an léith Mhacha or 'grave of Macha's 
Grey [Cuchullin's favourite horse]/ betwixt Dundalk and the 
sea ; so past sliabh na con or ' the wolf mountain/ which men 
style sliabh Bregh or ' the hill country of Bregia.' 

This was the very point and period of time at which Dermot son 
of Cerbhall (all Ireland's gentles accompanying him) occupied 
the top of Usnach, and he interrogated whether in propinquity 
to him there were any water. All cried : "there is not !" But 
Ossian heard that, and said : " bring me a sitlial that I may go in 
quest of water." " Take with thee a gilla^' said Dermot Ossian 
answered : " nor gilla nor óglaech shall come with me." 

Ossian went forth, but kept his face turned backwards on his 
track so as to see that in the men of Ireland's camp none 
watched him. In this fashion he attained to the well of Usnach, 
called an fhinnlescach or 'the white-rimmed,' which from the time 
when Ithe battle of Gowra was fought to that present no man of all 
Ireland had ever gotten. He came on the well's gravelly brink, 
and in it saw eight beautiful salmon clothed in their diversely 
shaded hues ; the intricacy of the place being such that there 
they needed not to fear anything. He pulled eight sprigs of 
watercress and eight of brooklime ; the sithal he dipped into the 
pool, scooped up the eight salmon alive and plunging madly, 
then with the sprigs of cress and brooklime floating in the vessel 
came back to Usnach, where he set the sithal before the king 
of Ireland. All were amazed at the sight — the stalk alone of 
each sprig of them reached to Dermot's knee. "They must 
be divided into two portions," he said : " one half to Patrick, the 
other to ourselves." The Saint answered : " not so, seeing that 
ye are the more numerous ; but be they separated into three, 
and one-third given to the Church, for that is her own peculiar 
share." So it was done, and : " It is well, king of Ireland/' 
quoth Patrick : " but never let that pair [Caeilte and Ossian] dock 
thee of thy lot in Heaven." Dermot asked : " what is the drift 
of that, holy Patrick ?" " It is directed at the so great intensity 
with which thou turnest thy thoughts to them." 

102 The Colloquy. 

Touching Caeilte again : he got as far as the brugh of Aengtis 
mac an Daghda to the northward ; across féic on the bright- 
streaming Boyne ; right hand to the hill of Tlachtga, and left to 
the hill of Taillte daughter of mac ú Móir ; ascending then by 
rod na carpaty or * the road of chariots/ to the top of Usnach : 
the spot in which the men of Ireland were. Caeilte alighted in 
the assembly and came where Patrick was ; he bowed to him 
and laid his head in his bosom. A decayed warrior (of Patrick's 
familia now), Muchua mac Lonan, rose before him and : " 'tis 
well, Caeilte, my soul," said Patrick, "tell us who is Muchua." 
Then Caeilte enunciated : — 

"Muchua: son of Lonan of the tunics son of Senach (at whom we will 
direct no thrust) son of Angus of the iron-grey horse-stud son of ... . 
son of Blath brecdhorn or * freckle-fist,' son of Aedhan son's son Q) of Fergus 

son of Cinaeth son of Fiacha son of Eoghan's son 


Muchua said : " what have I to do but to remember thee in all 
the eight canonical hours of the Church I" 

"Come up hither, Caeilte," cried Dermot, "and be at my 
^shoulder!" "No man of a king's shoulder am I, but one of a 
king's presence," he answered : " for I am but the son of a simple 
man of war, and he that now is at thy shoulder is better than I." 
" My word I pledge to it," said Ossian, " that never in all Ireland 
did a woman thy contemporary bear one that justly might have 
dubbed himself a better than thou !" 

Then the men of Ireland welcomed Caeilte, and the king gave 
him a triple welcome ; Caeilte gave Ossian three kisses, and sat 
down on one side of him. A fistful of watercress and of brook- 
lime that was in Ossian 's hand, and he put it into Caeilte's. "Cress 
and brooklime of the flescach this is," said Caeilte, " and hadst 
thou fish in it?" "I got eight salmon," Ossian answered, "and 
the eighth salmon of them we two have." Caeilte said : " by my 
word never was my portion in hand of woman or of man that I 
would prefer before thee." 

Caeilte now put his hand into the rim of his shield and down 
on the ground before them threw the chain of Lugh mac Eith- 
lenn. Ossian said : " Caeilte, it was in Garbhdaire's cairn thou 
foundest the chain." " Surely it was," he answered, and gave it 
to the king of Ireland. Five-and-twenty battles that the assembly 
mustered, and this chain would go round them all ; supposing 

The Colloquy. 163 

eight hundred warriors to fit within it and it to be locked on the 
first man, to open it was not possible until said first man should 
be freed. 

The king said : " 'tis well, Caeilte — it was a good four that at 
the one time were in Ireland : Cormac mac Art, and Finn, and 
Cairbre Lifechair, and Ossian." "Cormac was a fine warrior, 
Finn's excellence was known to all"; and Caeilte uttered : — 

" Had his son come, and his enemy, to stand a verdict of assize : one of 
his virtues it was that as between them he would not have pronounced a 
lying judgment." 

"Caeilte," said Dermot, "was Cormac better than Finn, and 
was Cairbre better than Ossian ?" 

" By the King that is over me, Cormac was not better than Finn ; nor was 
iar-famed Ossian inferior to Cairbre Lifechair.** 

Eochaid Lethderg, king of Leinster, enquired of Caeilte : " what 
cause had Finn and the Fianna that, above every other monster 
which ye banished out of Ireland, they killed not the reptile that 
we have in the glen of ros enaigh ?" Caeilte replied : " their reason 
was that the creature is the fourth part of Mesgedhra's brain, 
which the earth swallowed there and converted into a monstrous 
worm. Now this it was not fated that we should slay until the 
Táilchenn should arrive : a disciple of whose familia it is that in 
the latter end of time shall bind it with a single rush-stem, and 
in this bond it shall continue to the Judgment" "To what end 
then used the Fianna come to have themselves and their hounds 
slain by the reptile in that loch?" "A fairy sweetheart that 
Finn had, whom for the multiplicity of various shapes that she 
assumed (for there was not an animal but she would enter into 
its form) renounced her. Now one day the Fianna came upon 
the cairn overhanging said loch, and a deer swam away out on 
the loch; but the piasi rose at us and killed a hundred hounds 
and a hundred men of us. I questioned Finn whether it were 
by us that the creature was to fall ; which being so, then would 
we encounter it and so avenge our people on it To his know- 
ledge-tooth Finn submitted his thumb ; verity of prophecy [i.e. 
a true presage] was revealed to him, and he pronounced : — 

" Glen of ros enaigh (this will come true for me) the belPs voice shall yet 
sound there sweetly and perpetually ; though it should carry nought but the 
roedeer, yet manifold its precious virtues were . . ." 

M 2 

164 The Colloquy, 

Howbelt none may count up all that the ancient men related 
as having been by themselves and by the other chiefs of the 
Fianna performed in the way of great and valorous achievement, 
of mastery in use of arms ; all this over and above the legendary 
lore of every hill and of all the lands concerning which the men 
of Ireland enquired of them. 

Then came Trenbrugaid son of Treon, a principal brughaid 
cétach to the king of Ireland, and an emulous, accompanied with 
three times fifty men of stature. Every man of them had on a 
deep blue mantle ; beautiful shirts of pure white they wore too, 
and in their hands they had three times fifty fork-spears distri- 
buted. They salute the king of Ireland, and he answers them. 
" King," they said, "we have a great banquet for thee: nine score 
vats of mead, and of clear fermented ale ten score, along with 
their sufficient proportion of diverse and varied meats." Which 
provant and liquor they had brought with them for the king. 
He enquired of Ossian : " is it together with the gentles of Ire- 
land that ye, like the rest, will repair to the house of drinking 
and of pleasure ?" Ossian answered : " be our share of meat and 
fluid given to us apart ; for they of the present are not people of 
one generation nor of one time with us." " How many are ye?" 
asked the king. Ossian said : " twice nine men ; being nine to 
me, and to my comrade, to Caeilte, nine," "Twenty vats to 
you, with their sufficiency of meat," said the king. "Good 
now, King," objected Caeilte : " neither as regards meat nor in 
respect of liquor put us on the same footing; for where to 
me should be given ten vats, thirty vats it were right that 
Ossian should obtain." Thus then they spent that night 
mirthfully and of good cheer, without shortcoming whether of 
meat or of drink. 

On the morrow they all rose, and on a tulach the king of Ire^ 
land's tent was spread over him : into which tent was admitted 
none but either chief or chiefs heir-apparent ; Patrick with his 
clergy being lodged in the tent's second half, whither in turn 
were suffered to enter none but bishop, priest, or the specially 
devoted to the King of Heaven and of Earth. Ossian sat before 
Patrick ; Caeilte before the king of Ireland, who asked : " which 
of you is the elder?" "I am," Caeilte answered: "for when 
Ossian was born I had thirty years completed ; for now seventeen 

The Colloquy. 165 

years he has shared my bed, and out of my house it was that he 
got his first command of Fianna and a band of followers." 

Then the king questioned farther : " what was the number of 
Ireland's kings by whom lands were granted to the Fianna?" 
Caeilte (for he knew it) made answer: " it was a king that attained 
to rule Ireland, Feradach Fechtnach, and he had two sons : Tuathal 
and Fiacha. Feradach died, and his two sons between them 
divided Ireland : her precious things, her various wealth and her 
treasures, her kine and cattle-herds, her duns and hill-strengths, 
to the one ; to the other : her cliffs and her estuaries, her mast 
and her * sea-fruit,' her salmon beautiful in their graduated hues, 
her hunting and her venery." Dermot asked: "where made 
they this partition?" "At this hill upon which we sit now." 
" That partition was not an equitable [///. * a comparable '] one," 
said Ireland's good men. Ossian asked : " whether of the portions 
is that which yourselves had preferred to the other?" "Her 
feasts, her dwelling-houses, and all the rest of her good things," 
they said. " The portion which they contemn," said Caeilte, " that 
is the very one which in our eyes had been the better part." 
"Caeilte," said Ossian, "say and tell the truth of it;" and he 
uttered : — 

" Say, Caeilte, for to this enquiry much good guidance appertains [i.e. much 
useful information will result from it], whence had Ireland's first half-and- 
half apportionment, that of all countries surrounding Usnach, its origin ?" 
" Who 'twas that to the Fianna granted lands canst thou, Ossian, tell to us ? 
who 'twas that resigned the post of gilla con^ and who that waged him with 
a stipend ? For I mind the cause of all, O son of straight-standing Derg : 
from the time when Fiacha beneficed the Fianna, till that in which thou, 
Ossian, wert abandoned. Ten years of prosperous command thou, Ossian, 
king-chief, didst enjoy : until over Bregia the Fianna were driven northwards 
so that perforce, Ossian, they deserted thee. Feradach's good son as I 
opine, whose cognomen was Fiacha Finn : Eithne daughter of Daire Dubh, 
that great queen, was his mother. Feradach and Fiacha Finn his brother : 
they divided Ireland share and share; and the men of Ireland flourished all, 
being free from war and emulation. Verily the younger son elected to cast 
in his lot with the Fianna : to have rivers, wastes and wilds, and woods, and 
precipices, and estuaries. Feradach, as I believe, assumed monarch's power 
over the men of Ireland : her feasts he took, her earthly fruits, her houses, 
her herds and all her sportiveness. Feradach's reign was good, up to the 
time when by the great chief Mál he fell: the perishing of a king that 
used to put to shame prowess of others, such was the death of prince 
Feradach. Auspiciously then, so soon as Feradach was fallen, Fiacha 
entered into Tara and from the great Mál mac Rochraide wrested the power 


1 66 The Colloquy. 

of all Ireland. Hard upon this, to the magnanimous Moma Fiacha com- 
mitted the Fianna, and after Moma four of his tribe had them. Moma, 
vigorous son of Cairbre, ten years he had of their command-in-chief; ten 
years were Garadh's lot as well, till he was parted from his comely head. 
Garadh's son Daighre, vigorous too, had iive years in the chiefiy ; a seven 
years' total was the spell of Donn Mac Moma, last of them. Eochaid son of 
Marcadh out of the east — out of Ulidia — was chief of Ireland's Fianna then: 
a year and a half he lasted in supreme power over them. Gas mac Gannan, 
a hardy blade and of Ulidia likewise, he enjoyed a single year ; Dubhan his 
son, him I credit with two. Out of Munster, in guerdon of their wily machi* 
nations, Liath of Luachra and Labradh Red-hand succeeded: these, that 
were sons of plebeian men of Ara, attained (no niggardly allowance) to ten 
years apiece. Trénmhór ua Baeiscne\ he was grandson to Sétna sithbac^ 
grandfather to Finn, father of Gumall and of GrimalL Trenmor, the affec- 
tion felt towards him being great, obtained all Ireland's Fianna in one mass : 
both north and south they made him chiefs and seventeen years were his 
period. By virtue of the sword and shield Amall, so hardy in his vehemence, 
grasped the command : thirty determined battles he fought for it, and held it 
seven years until he fell in Gnucha's fight. Then Moma's sons (that were 
thirty warriors of great renown) felt grief and chronic sorrow for Daighre, 
Goll, and Garadh. Goll More, son to the last Moma, ten years he had in 
governance of all Ireland's Fianna. Then came * the golden salmon,' Finn 
son of Gumall son of Trenmor : gift-bestowing noble leader of our hosts ; 
our admirable diversely accomplished sage. Two hundred years in flourish- 
ing condition and thirty more free of debility (a lengthy term) were Finn's 
existence; which brought him to the point at which he perished in taking 
* the leap of his old age.' The seventeen chiefs of whom I am certified as 
having had command of Ireland's Fianna: Finn — Almha's lofty champion — 
was better than the whole of them I Sorcerers five (a guild refractory to 
handle) the best that ever fell to the land of the west : these my memory 
accurately serves me to set forth with all their gramarye. Of whom was 
Baghna from sliabh Baghna^ Gathbadh likewise (most admirable wizard), 
Stocan son of the gentle and hundredfold-possessing Gore, Moghmith, and 
Finn of Formoyle. Five physicians, wondrous set! the best that ever fell 
to Banba's land: long as it is that I am after them, I am well versed in 
their description. They were Miach^ Oirbedh^ and Dianchécht their father; 
Gahhrán^ the oversea physician come out of the east [i.e. from Scotland] ; 
Baeiscne's grandson himself, Finn of the splendid hair. Five poets, a noble 
company I the best that ever fell to Erin's land : my memory accurately serves 
me to detail them too in all their bardic skill. Cairbre^ the poet whom 
Amergin of the Gaels' island procured across the seas ; Fercheirtne along 
with Labraidh lorc^ Moghruith again, and Finn of the naked sword. Five 
that in acute intelligence were the most sagacious whom in all Ireland the one 
house contained : Fithal and Flaithri his son, Aillmhe^ Cairbre^ ^nd Cormac. 
The problem which these in their wisdom would propose, 'tis out of hand that 
Finn alone would solve ; but that which Finn of the banquettings would moot, 
not one of the five could manage. Five warriors and men of wrathful utterance 
(the best that ever fell to Elga's land), roughest in action and in mighty deed, 
rudest in battle and in dual fight : Lugh son of dan mac Cáinte from beyond, 

The Colloquy. 167 

Cúchulcdnn^ Conall^ Lugkaid lagha (good hand at martial work) and 
Baeiscne's grandson Finn himself. Five the most generous that were ever 
found, and of the bright Gaels' race best for giving of raiment and of meat 
(well they spent their substance) : Eithne's son Lugh^ illustrious Aenghus^ 
Cúchulainn (most warlike arm), the gentle Conaire of visage that never 
blenched, and Finn mac Lugach were of the one tenour all. Five chiefs 
that by me are verified (best that ever fell to Erin's land) : accurately my 
memory serves me to recite them in their reigning order : Eiremón son of 
great Milesius, Ughaine after Heremon; Aenghus tuirmech^ Conn cédcha- 
thachy and stout Finn : a laech in roughness and for desperate deed, an 
áglaech for affectionate fidelity ; a cleric for preaching God's Son, and for 
truthfulness a prince. uBy the King that is over me above ! a fault I knew 
not in Finn's Fianna except, O God that visitedst the Earth, that they wor- 
shipped not the Son supremely. J The good followers live no more ; Finn the 
veritable chief lives not : in his house the troop no longer is, surrounding the 
commander and Fian-leader. Better than all others was their disposition of 
the chase, better than all lords was their captain ; so great was the bulk of 
their hounds and of their men, the number of their shields and of their 
swords. He was a king, a seer, a poet ; a lord with a manifold and great 
train; our magician, our knowledgeable one, our soothsayer: all whatsoever 
he said was sweet with him. Excessive as perchance ye deem my testimony 
of Finn, and though ye hold that which I say to be overstrained : nevertheless, 
and by the King that is above me, he was three times better still ! Seven 
times the great chief made act of faith — Cumall's son Finn, of Almha ; the 
seventh time, when he was well advanced, was that which was the occasion 
of his end and death. The Southern Half: 'twas Eoghan ruled it; and 
Trenmor, he was his lieutenant : Trenmor son to Cairell of cnoc an scáil^ 
with whom all whatsoever he said was sweet" 

"Success and benediction, Caeilte!" said Dermot grandson of 
Cerbhall: "and where are Ireland's sages and her antiquaries ? 
in ollaves' diction be these matters written down upon the tabular 
staves of poets and in records of the learned ; to the end that of 
all the knowledge, the enlightenment, the hill-lore, and of all the 
doughty deeds of arms which Caeilte and Ossian have communi- 
cated to us, each and all may to their own country and to their 
land take back their share." Even so it was done. 

Then Finn, son of Faebarderg chief of Hy-Kinsela, interro- 
gated Caeilte : " the gitisach Finn now, what is the reason that 
beyond every other spot in the country saints and righteous 
affect it?" Caeilte answered that, saying: "it was a hunting 
preserve that Finn had ; and when from inneoin of Moyfemen to 
benn Edair the Fianna could not in all Leinster's fierce province 
procure their sufficiency of game, they would get it in the 

1 68 The Colloquy. 

Finn niac Faebar said again : " good now, Caeilte, and why is 
the name of áth Fema or * Ferna's ford * given to the ford that 
is in the midst of the giusach ? This question Ossian answered : 
•*it was Goll mac Morna that slew Ferna son of Cairell there 
as being a spoiler of clan-Morna ; also he was son of the king of 
the Déise or 'Decies' in the south, and to Finn an Sglaech of 
trust. When now he was thus laid in a dug-out cavity of the 
earth, under his knowle'dge-tooth Finn put his thumb, truth was 
revealed to him, and he said : * well for thee, Ferna son of Cairell, 
that art buried where thou art ! for many are the Mass-bells and 
the white books of Hours that shall be used, and much oblation 
of the Lord's Body it is that shall be made over thee where thou 
liest*" Ut dixit'.— 

"'Fema's ford, O ford of Ferna, where virtuous Maedog shall be ! many 
though its warriors be to-day, its heavenly canticles shall yet abound. 
Ferna's ford of the smooth sandy brink, virtuous will be the man that shall 
possess it ; when *soul friends* [i.e. confessors and spiritual directors] shall 
have made their way thither, thou [Fema] shalt be the nearer to God. 
Across the ford of Finglas Maedog of the numerous familia will come into 
the land ; Maedog of the numerous familia shall arrive : a splendour of the 
sun piercing through showers ; the son of the star shall arrive : himself a star 
of everlasting precious property. For all it be to-day a place appointed in 
which the Fianna use to seethe their flesh : Maedog of the numerous familia 
shall come hither, and I congratulate the chief that has it for his burial-/i//a^A. 
A mighty boar will he be whom I now prognosticate, an angry lightning-flash 
of Doom ; Maedog of the numerous familia will arrive, shall be a wave to 
sweep o'er many a ford."' 

"All this of a truth is good," said Faebarderg : " but I have 
another query which I fain would put to thee, Caeilte." He 
answered : " say on." " A place that we have here at the march- 
ing of both provinces [Leinster and Munster namely], in the 
plentifully manned valley of the three waters, where Suir and 
Nore and Barrow meet : the name of which spot is ros broc or 
* word of brocks,' and I desire to learn of thee to whom was sub- 
jected the dwelling that is there." 

" Two óglaechs of trust to Finn that occupied it : Cellach of 
braenbhiUy and Moling luath or * the swift' of Leinster's province, 
either of whom owned two hundred óglaecJts^ two hundred gillas^ 
two hundred wolf- and deer-hounds ; and though the entire 
three battles of the Fianna had been searched out, hardly had 
there been found a pair which in athletic proficiency and in 

The Colloquy. 169 

spear-throwing should have exceeded them. Another perfection 
yet there was in them, seeing it was in their mansion that for 
a whole year the Fianna might abide nor know shortcoming 
either of meat or of liquor." Here Finn mac Faebar interposed 
with : " to me the water of this town is a matter of wonder ; 
which itself [i.e. the reservoir] lies on an eminence, its stream [i.e, 
its discharge] being directed down a precipice, and to every dis- 
ease with which it has contact it affords relief." " The cause of 
such benign efficacy is this," said Caeilte : " that is the first water 
in Ireland which angels blessed, likewise the last, and Taeide is 
the river's name. But to proceed : there those two óglaechs 
dwelt until the sons of Morna turned out as depredators ; and 
one night they never perceived anything until the sons of Morna, 
closing in from front and rear, had completely surrounded their 
town. For three days and three nights they assaulted the place, 
during which time they availed nothing against it until they got 
a chance to fire it. The town accordingly was both plundered 
and burnt by them ; not an individual denizen, man or woman, 
escaping without being either consumed or slain with weapon. 
When they had made an end of harrying and pf playing havoc 
with the town, straightway they drew off to the westward, cross- 
ing the Barrow at the shallows of inbher dubhghlaise^ i.e. * Inver- 
douglas' or 'estuary of the black burn.' Then we the three 
battalions of the Fianna reached the town, but to the dwellers 
there that was no help now. On the fort's green Finn and all 
Ireland's three Fian -battalions set them down ; tearfully and 
dejectedly he wept, for not often had there been wrought a 
slaughter that by the Fianna was esteemed more grievous than 
this. A long bowl of pale gold was brought to the chief, to 
Finn ; he washed his hands, upon his kingly and most comely 
face he dashed water, under his knowledge-tooth he put his 
thumb, and the third greatest revelation that ever was shewn to 
him it was now that it took place. He said therefore: *four 
chosen seers they are that after me shall arise in Ireland, who 
for the King of Heaven and of Earth [i.e. to His honour and 
glory] 3hall practise their confession and set forth their doctrine. 
As the fourth man of these [i.e. as one of these four] will come 
Moling son of Faelan son of Feradach son of Fidgha ; and a 
battle which in the latter time will be fought in Ireland, that of 

1 70 The Colloquy. 

magh rath or *Moira' namely: Suibhne (surnamed geilt or *the 
madman ') that shall escape out of that battle, 'tis in this town he 
will be slain and buried. The above cleric's mother will be a 
woman of the Munster-folk, whence they of Munster shall not 
dare to do this spot a mischief.' Then Finn said : — 

" * Ros broc to-day is a path for wolves, and a rushing sea betwixt two cliffs ; 
be the time long or be it short until saints shall come hither, Moling is the 
name of him whose church it will be then. Turbulent Taeide of the eddying 
pools, along the margin of the rock she makes a flood ; yet even hither shall 
great concourse flock, bound on their pilgrimage for love of God. Hither 
out of the north, from Moira, the flighty man [Suibhne] shall come ; unto 
the cleric on a propitious morning this shall be a glad occasion. The House 
of Moling son of Faelan son of Feradach Finn : one shall pay him an ounce 
of gold to have his house [i.e. his grave] within his [Moling's] cemetery. The 
shining saint's bell called the bennán Moling shall be rung at the Hours ; his 
mother being a Munster-woman, the laechs oiLuimnech or 'the estuary of the 
Shannon' shall not dare aught against him. Out of the north will come the 
men of Cualann, their host's advance shall be right to the church ; from that 
time forth until the very Judgment saint Moling's House will go from good 
to better. I tell it all to you beforehand, and the presage will be true for 
me; it helps to render Finn's soul acceptable here, does this prophecy of 
Moling's advent to the Ros^ " 

Then the king of Ireland said to Patrick: "it is time now for 
me to go to Tara ; and you, Ancients, come ye with me ?" They 
replied: "till a year's end we» will not go thither." 

Then Eochaid lethderg king of Leinster said : " to spend this 
year I will convey Ossian to dun Liamhna or * Dunlavin,' i.e. the 
dun of Liamhain called * of the soft smock ' and daughter to 
Dobhran of the Duffry. Conall More son of Niall said: "to 
spend this year I will take Caeilte with me northwards to dun na 
mbarc!^ Dermot the king, son of Cerbhall, said : " I will carry 
o.T Patrick to Tara, to baptise, to bless, and in his own law and 
rule to order the men of Ireland." 

All broke up now to their own several countries, but so as 
that in a year's time they met again at Tara ; and this that you 
have here [both above and to follow] comprises *the Colloquy 
with the Ancients' at the pillar-stone on the top of Usnach, as 
well as all else that by way of knowledge and instruction they 
uttered to the men of Erin. 

Touching Caeilte: in company with Conall mac Neill he made 
his way to rath Artrach in the north, in the land of Kinelconall. 

The Colloquy. 171 

The gentle nubile yellow-haired damsels and the small green- 
mantled boys of the residence came forth to give Caeilte welcome; 
and the company tarried at the festive banquetting until the sun 
being risen from his fiery pillow flooded the cliffs and waterfalls 
and estuaries of the Earth. 

Caeilte and Conall with the gentles of his people issued from 
the town, and Conall enquired: "wherefore was the name of 
rath Artrach given to that rath, rath Mongaigh to that one to 
the northward, and lios na néices or * liss of the poets ' to this liss 
south of us?" Caeilte answered that: "it was three sons that 
Bodhb Derg son of the Daghda had in the many-windowed brugh 
upon the Boyne : Artrach, and Aedh surnamed * handsome,' and 
Angus, between whom and their own father a variance fell out 

* Come now, my sons,' said Bodhb, * quit me the tuatha de 
danann and betake you to the king of Ireland, to Conn's grand- 
son Cormac. There is good cause why it were just for you to 
give up the tuatha de danann : of country or of land they have 
not so much as will support both themselves and all that Artrach 
has of wealth in cattle ; Angus alone in gillas and in óglaechs 
outnumbers the whole tuatha de danann^ and in multitude of 
poets handsome Aedh exceeds the bardic fraternities of Ireland * 
and of Scotland both.' 

" Bodhb's three sons accordingly came to Cormac, who enquired 
what had set them in motion. ' Our own father that has given 
us notice to clear out from the tuatha de danann^ and we are 
come to seek land of thee.' 'That ye shall have,' answered 
Cormac: * I will grant you four triuchas of the rough-land which 
to-day is called tir Conaill or * the land of Conall ' [otherwise 

* Tirconnell '].' Now the eldest son of them, Artrach, had a 
bruidhen of seven doors, with a free welcome before all comers; 
Angus called ilchlesach^ or * of the many accomplishments,' was in 
rath Mongaig and had with him the kings' sons of Ireland and of * 
Scotland acquiring the art and craft of missile weapons ; hand- 
some Aedh was in lios na néices with Ireland's and Scotland's 
bardic bands by him. Thus they passed thirty years of Cormac's 
reign, until he died in rath Speldin in" Bregia. Then they 
returned back again to the tuatha de danann ; and [at that time], 
what with smooth crimson-pointed nuts of the forest and with 
beautiful golden-yellow apples, this was a liss pied and various 

1 7 2 The Colloquy. 

with red [and with many other tints] although to-day it be but a 

blighted Hss " : — 

Caeilte cecinit, 
" Blighted this day is rath Artrach^ though once it was a fresh rath filled 
with many weapons ; lightsome upon the south side and the north was this 
rath of manifold property. This stone northward of the Hss, 'tis numbers 
that are in ignorance concerning it : three times fifty ounces thrice told be 
they that rest abidingly beneath its breast The name of the rath lying north 
to us is *" rath of Mongach ' : of him that had an ample host ; and but a little 
way from it to the southward *tis to rath Aedha^ or *Aedh's rath/ of the poets." 

Conall enquired now: "where is the stone under which the 
gold and the silver are ?" " It is not to find the stone that makes 
the difficulty, but to get it out of the ground.'* " No difficulty 
there," quoth Conall rising with four hundred men. In unison 
they all applied their hands to the stone to drag it from the earth ; 
but in such mighty effort was no profit at all, neither availed they 
to stir it in the least " Not a man to lend a hand or to hoist a 
load have we at this present," Caeilte said as under the stone he 
thrusted in his spear's head and thereby prised it from its bed. 
Into the place where the stone had lain he reached a hand and 
brought out Finn mac Cumall's lia or * stone-coffer ' in which 
were three times fifty ounces of silver, as many of red gold, 
thrice fifty golden chains, and a sword of battle. Conall said: 
" divide the treasures, Caeilte." " The sword and the chains {sic) 
to thee ; the coffer of red gold [and of silver] to holy Patrick, for 
he is the Gaels' casket of belief and faith." 

Then Conall said : " we have here three iulacksj but whence are 
the names they bear we know not : tulach na laechraidhe or ' grave 
of the laechs' one is called; tulach an bhanchuire or ^tulach of the 
woman-bevy* another; and leacht na macraidhe or 'grave of the 
boys' is the third tulacKs name: in which tulach is a well with a 
river flowing out of it, glaise na bfer or * the stream of men' being 
'the denomination of this latter. Caeilte said : " it was a wife 
that Finn took, Sabia daughter of the Daghda's son Bodhb Derg 
namely; and she required of him a marriage gift, which was that 
to her share must fall one half both of his matrimonial society and 
of his booty [the remaining moiety to be shared among his other 
wives] ; and the reason of this demand was that from Taprobane 
to the Hesperides' garden scarce was there a woman Setter than 
she. To Finn then she was plighted at the sidh on Femen, at 

Tlu Colloquy. 173 

this time called sidh na mban fionn ; which done he started on 
the track and trail of clan-Moma, that were out in depredation 
and outlawry upon him, and so reached this rath: rath Artrack 
Here he halted and pitched camp, then said to the young 
woman's brother Ferdoman son of Bodhb: *in the eyes of 
Bodhb's daughter Sabia it must be all too long that I am abroad 
from her, and she will say 'tis affront and contumely that for a 
year now I have treated her to. Messengers I ought by rights 
to send to fetch her ; but who were the fittest to despatch ?* 

* Why, her four own foster-brethren : Conan and Cathal, the king . 
of Munster's two sons ; Cathal and Crimthann, the king of 
Leinster's two ; which make the four that she holds dearest in 
Ireland ' (now when there was not a wife in Finn's bed, 'tis they 
that kept him company). Finn asked them : * men, which of you 
is it will go to fetch the woman ?' The king of Munster's two 
sons answered : * we are they that will undertake it ; for it is in 
our country, in our land, she is, and she it is that of all Ireland's 
women is to us dearest and most preferable.' So they, being in 
number three hundred and having four hundred gillas together 
with their hounds, marched to sidh na mban fionn where they 
entered into the spacious lustrous sidh, A most gentle welcome, 
void of all guile and treachery, was offered them ; the freshest of 
all kinds of meat and the oldest of all sorts of drink were served 
to them. There they abode for three days and three nights, after 
which they said : * 'tis to fetch thee we are come from Finn mac 
CumalL' The young woman replied : * what remains but to go 
to him ?' 

Then her woman- folk assumed their raiment and their burthens 
of travel and of wayfaring: one hundred daughters of chiefs and 
of chieftains in vesture of all colours ; they came away to this 
iulachy where their horses were unyoked and ate grass. Here it 
was that a great thirst afflicted the woman and all her she- 
attendants. The king of Munster's son, Conaing son of Dubh 
son of Angus tireachy said : * here is no water at hand ' ; and there 
being on the hill's top an enormous rock of a stone, with mighty 
effort they one and all turned to at the same and got the huge 
block out of its cavity, whereupon out of its former berth there 
gushed water that formed a sparkling and translucid loch-well. 

* In manly wise the water has been excavated for,' said the young 

174 '^f^ Colloquy. 

woman: 'what name then better than glaise na bfer [i.e. rivulus 
virorum] could it bear?* So they drank their full fill of the water. 
Again she said : *■ as touching Finn now, ye promised him to 
be here.' * By our word/ they answered, * here it is that he pro- 
mised to be ; but we know also that he was gone in pursuit of 
clan-Morna and into Ulidia's most glorious province, to bentia 
Boirche! It was not long now before they saw a phalanx in 
fighting array, in warlike guise, that straight out of the north 
came on with speed ; there being in it eight hundred óglaechs, 
Sabia enquired: *know ye those yonder?' *We do,' said Co- 
naing : * yonder is Goll of the terrible deeds, son of Morna, and 'tis 
at us he comes.' By them then the young woman was placed in 
her chariot. 

"Goll in his turn asked: 'know ye yon men?' Conan mac 
Morna answered: *we do: yonder are the two sons of Dubh, son 
of Angus tireach king of Munster, that are two men of trust to 
Finn mac Cumall.' 

" Against Goll with his people now Finn's followers set knee 
to fight and face to fray, and either side hurled their spears at the 
other. Howbeit of the sons of Morna four hundred men that 
bore weapon fell by Finn's people ; but these perished without 
the escape of a single one alive. As for the woman-folk, they 
laid their faces to the ground and for horror of the battle died ; 
whence also this tulach has the name of tulach an bhanchuire. 

" Now came hither Finn and the three battles of the Fianna, 
and they beheld the slaughter ; then the king of Leinster's two 
sons laid their lips to the ground and for grief at their foster- 
brethren died. Finn saw that : his arms fell from his hands, and 
he wept copious very lamentable showers so that his very breast 
and chest were wetted. The Fianna also wept all, and Finn 
said: 'alas for him that [with these tidings] should reach the 
house of Conn of the Hundred Battles, soft-smocked Liamhain's 
dun ! an ill tale it is that will be carried to the fort of sliabh 
Claire, and to the borders of sliabh Cua, and told to Dubh mac 
Angus tireach^ king of both Munster's provinces in the south ! 
an evil tale it is that shall overtake Bodhb Derg at sliabh na 
nibannfionn to the southward: that of his daughter's death !' 

Then Finn went and the carnage was searched out by him, 
but he found not Sabia. The Fianna .came and in excavations 

The Colloquy. 175 

of the earth buried those four hundred of Finn's people, the 
manner in which each one of these was found being with a man 
of the sons of Morna dead under him. Over them their names 
were written in Ogham, their funeral games were held, and 
therefore it is that this hill bears the name of cnoc na laechraidhe 
or 'the hill of laecks*] the other is, as aforesaid, 'the hill of 
women ' ; while this one to the north is drd na macraidhe or 
* eminence of the striplings,' from the king of Leinster's sons that 
were there laid under earth. This then, Conall, is that which 
thou requiredst of me," said Caeilte. 

Then Conall enquired of him further: "was Finn bound by 
gesa or 'prohibitions'?" Caeilte answered: "they were many, 
but it was not they that came against him ; yet a trembling and 
a great fear fell on him at the laying under ground of those 
youths." Ut dixit \-^ 

"A woful deed, and O a deed of woe, it was that Dubh's two sons, the two 
sons of the king, and four hundred gillas and hounds perished without one 
being missed by weapon. Great calamity, O great calamity, and cause of 
many tears round about rath Artrachy was Conaing's death and CathaPs too : 
that both should lie at one field's end. Glas na b/er, O glas na bfer^ 'tis it 
shall be a perennial ancient well ; the story shall be a famous one with all, it 
shall endure to the Judgment of Judgments. Not to take a morning's walk in 
Bregia's moor ; not to turn his back on any company of poets ; not to take a 
night's rest at dun ráth^ nor to give wages to their óglaechs there ; not to 
sleep with Bodhb Derg's daughter upon the longest eventide that falls upon 
the land [i.e. midsummer-night] ; not to walk on the Hdh of Femen by the 
new-kindled blaze of a red fire [i.e. at Beltane and on S. John's eve] : such 
were the prohibitory injunctions of him that never refused any man's petition 
(were it to his own detriment or not), of him whose bodily form and whose 
wisdom both were excellent: I speak of Cumall's son, Finn of Almha. 
Death of Cathal and of curly Crimthann : under the green-skinned tulack 
there they are; north or south who ever saw the like of them and theirs 
being slaughtered all at once ? Finn of the Fianna [when his time came] 
was slain performing his heroic leap ; that, alas I broke my heart in twain — 
brought my strength down to nothing!" 

"Victory and benediction be thine, Caeilte!" said Conall: 
" great knowledge and lore thou hast left with us for recital to 
them of the latter time." 

After that they passed inside the dwelling, where until the hour 
of repose they drank and were merry. On the morrow Caeilte 
rose and to Conall Derg mac Neill and all his people bade fare- 
well, saying: "now must I go into some other quarter." That 

1 76 The Colloquy. 

day therefore he journeyed eastward to loch an daimh dlieirg 

in Dalaradia, where were two eminent presbyters of Patrick's 

familia : Colman of Ela and Eoghanan, and they performing 

all the order of the serene dominical Canon [i.e. the Mass] with 

mutual praising of the Creator. 

Then came three young ecclesiastics of the clerics* familia and 

launched their currach to catch fish, they the while saying their 

prescribed Hours. Caeilte saw them, listened to them, and 

said : — 

" A rare thing it was ever for the ear of my head to hearken to euphonious 
reading; there was a time when 'twas more frequent with me to give an 
ear to warbling of good women [i.e, high-bom ladies]. Whosoever should 
possess a pen, long time he would be occupied in writing them : for mise- 
rable as I am here now, many are the wonders that I have experienced. 
Slow was my journey from Tralee, long time I have waited for it ; and as for 
books of [clerkly] reading, for me to listen to such was a seldom thing." 

Then Colman of Ela and Eoghanan came out and saw the 
great men with the huge wolf-dogs in their hands [i.e. in leash]. 
"Even so," Colman said: "yonder is Caeilte, who is of Finn's 
people and eke of Patrick's familia." " Have him brought into 
the island to us," cried all. He [and his] were brought accord- 
ingly, and set in a secluded house apart where the oldest of 
every liquor and the newest of every meat was given them. 

They having now made an end of their supper and refection, 
Colman enquired of Caeilte: "wherefore was the name of loch 
an daimh dheirgy or *the red stag's loch,' assigned to this one?" 
Caeilte answered that: "it was a red stag that haunted in the 
open lands of well-watered Luachra in the south, and four times 
a year used to get clear away from hounds and men of the 
Fianna ; but at last they followed him to this spot We, four 
of the Fianna to wit, came up with him : Diarmait ua Duibhne^ 
and mac Lugach, and Glas son of Encherd of Beirre, and it was 
I that as we neared this ford was next to him. All together we 
flung our spears at him and he fell by us ; I secured one antler, 
Dermot the other, and he carried it off to Tara-Luachra, to Finn. 
He set the butt of it on one of his feet, and the topmost tine was 
on the crown of his head ; now he was the tallest man of the 
Fianna. The other antler I deposited [in the loch] close against 
this island, and I take it that did but the light serve me I could 
make my way to it." And he uttered :— 

The Colloquy. 177 

" This loch is the red stag's loch, to which we came from path to path [i.e. 
every step of the way from our starting-point] ; until the very ultimate gene- 
ration henceforward that shall be its name. If indeed it be light for me, and 
broadly light athwart the land at large, the antler whole and perfect I will 
deliver to you on your floor. We four that made our number when we came 
from the west and out of Munster of the many captives : our vigour and our 
fame were good until we reached the loch." 

" Success and benediction, Caeilte ! " said Colman : " that is 
great knowledge and true guidance to have survived with any 
one." Caeilte said : " look now, thou young ecclesiastic, whether 
the moon be risen in her pavilion of the air;" and a seminarist 
answered : " she is risen, so that both land and sea [i.e. the world's 
entire surface] are illumined by her/' So Caeilte proceeded to 
the hindermost nook of the island, thrust his hand down by its 
brink and brought up the antler, then carried it off and laid it on 
the floor of the house in which the clerics were. 

He that at this time was king of Ulidia was Eochaid, called 
faebhairdkerg or * Red-edge,* and he was in close proximity to 
them on tulach na narm or * the hill of arms,' now called magh 
rath or * the plain of raths,' i.e. * Moira.' Colman and Eoghanan 
with six students rose right early, and took the antler to 
exhibit it to the king of Ulidia and to the Ulidians in 
general, who were there two hundred armed men in number. 
The seminarist brought the horn into the king's presence, and 
under it the whole of them might have fitted to shelter against 
foul weather or storm. The king asked: "who got the antler, 
and where was it found ?" " In the red stag's loch Caeilte got 
it," they answered. " Happy would I deem myself," said the 
king, "if he should come my way ; for he would leave with us 
the ancient lore of all our borders, of all our hills, and the dis- 
crimination of all our countries." 

As for the clergy, after leaving the antler with the king of 
Ulidia they returned to the island. Caeilte said: "good now, 
Colman, my soul, what is the reason of those eight Hours for the 
purpose of which ye both daily and nightly rise?" "The reason 
of them is a weighty one," said Colman, " and is this : eight 
faults there be that cleave to body and to soul of every man ; 
now those eight Hours purge them." Then Colman uttered : — 

" The eight carnal imperfections, that gnaw us to the bone ; the eight choice 
Hours, that vehemently banish them : Prime, against immoderate gluttony ; 


. I 

1 78 The Colloquy. 

Tierce, against anger bom of many causes ; cheerful lightsome Noon we con- 
stantly oppose to lust ; Nones against covetousness so long as we are on the 
breast of weary Earth ; pleasant and profitable Vespers we oppose to sore 
despair; Compline, against perverting weariness: this is a fair partition; 
cold Noctums that equally divide [the night], against inordinate boasting [i.e. 
pride] ; Matins of God's atoning Son, against enslaving sullen pride. Mayest 
thou, O judicial King, O Jesus, save me for sake of the eight 1 " 

Caeilte said : '' success and benediction, Colman ; well hast thou 
resolved that question ! and what hinders me that I should not 
practise to observe those eight Hours, seeing that God hath 
prolonged \lit, 'delayed'] me to be contemporary with them?" 

Then Colman questioned Caeilte : " what is the cause that the 
name of tipra an bhantrachta or * the well of women ' is given to 
this well close against the loch ?" Caeilte answers that : " it was 
Niamhy daughter of Angus tireqch kjjig^ f Munster,^ that Jjrom 
dúntía fftbope in_the province of Mun ster elope d with Finn's son 
O^sian and'Cáme to this welLu here he w aswit h he r for^six weeks, 
enjoying the Kuntilig and venery of UlidiaTThe dainsel too with 
her thirty women used to come every momingr^nd in this blue- 
surfaced w^ter they_would wash t heir Jaces and their hands. 

That his daughter was stolen away with Ossian lay very 
heavily on the king of Munster ; both provinces of Munster 
were mustered by him: five hardy battles equal in bulk, and 
in pursuit of the Fianna they came hither. Just then Niamh 
washed herself at the well, and she saw the five battles on the 
iulach right over her. " Alas for it," the young woman cried : 
" and happy she that had died, or been slain, ere her guardian, 
her father, her three brothers and Munster's nobles had seen her 
thus ! " She laid her face to the ground and, with the thirty her 
companions, died ; as for her, her heart as a lump of black blood 
passed from her mouth, and hence it is that from that time to 
this cnoc an air or * the hill of slaughter ' is this tulacKs name." 
Then Caeilte uttered : — 

'^ In this hill lies the queen . . . 

" When both provinces of Munster saw the woman-folk's death 
their king said : * an evil undertaking hath been this of Ossian's 
and of the Fianna's against us ! ' and he enjoined his she-runner 
Muirenn daughter of Muiresc to seek out Finn and challenge 
him to battle. The runner went her way to rath chinn chon or 
* rath of the wolf-dog's head' in Dalaradia, where the Fianna were. 

The Colloquy. 179 

Finn sought her tidings, and she told him the errand on which 
she came. * Until this day/ said Finn, * it has been a rare thing 
to challenge me to battle ! go, Garbchronan, summon the Fianna 
to the fight* He went out and, standing over the Fianna's 
leaguer, emitted three wrathful larum-cries which were heard 
in the heart of their camp ; and the Fianna answered, for they 
knew that some great motive urged him to haste. They rose 
therefore and stoutly arrayed themselves in order of war; then of 
Finn enquired the cause of battle, and he told it them. Now 
said Fergus True- lips to Finn : * Fian -chief, for giving battle to 
the king of Munster in the matter of his daughter whom thou 
hast slain thou hast not right on thy side.' 

"Then by Finn and the chiefs of the Fianna a course was 
determined on, pursuant to which he said to Abartach's daughter 
Smirgait: tell Angus Hreach and Munster's nobles that I will 
pay them. the award of Cormac grandson of Conn, of Eithne 
ollardha daughter of Cahir More, and of Githruadh son of Fer- 
caecait The runner departed and delivered what she had to 
say. * It shall be accepted,* Angus said, * if bondsmen and sure- 
ties for its fulfilment be put in.' 'What sureties requirest thou ?' 
* The son of him that hath done me wrong: Oscar son of Ossian, 
and Ferdoman son of the Daghda's son Bodhb Derg, and Dermot 
son of Donn son of Donough.' Finn yielded that and both 
parties repaired to Tara, where the judgment given them was 
this: the girl to be raised out of the tulach in which she lay, and 
put into scales ; her own weight of gold and again her own 
weight of silver to be given to the king of Munster in eric of 
her; a separate eric to be paid for every chief or chieftain's 
daughter that perished there. * Fianna of Ireland how shall 
we apportion such eric?' said Finn. They answered: 'one-third 
from clan-Baeiscne ; from us the Fianna, two.' And this, Col- 
man," ended Caeilte, "is the only eric that ever Finn allotted 
among the Fianna." 

At this point it was that from rath Aim to the red stag's 
loch Eochaid Red-edge sent a message to fetch Caeilte. This 
latter bade Colman and Eoganan farewell therefore ; while to 
him the saints promised eternal happiness, to entertain his com- 
plaint, and for his welfare to supplicate Heaven's King and 
Earth's. Then in the king of Ulidia's chariot Caeilte journeyed 


i8o The Colloquy, 

to rath Aine in that country's easternmost part, where with their 
king the nobles of the Ulidians were. Now our Eochaid Red- 
edge was virtuous and was worshipful ; for without justice on 
his side he never harried any, nor from any man was taken that 
which in virtue of original racial right was his own. 

Three battles by the way, that was the king's strength on this 
day. Caeilte in due course reaches them ; he leaps from the 
chariot, and the king of Ulidia in concert with all his host gives 
him ardent welcome. ^* Good now, Caeilte, my soul," said the 
king : " what thing could we enquire of thee which should profit 
us more than the lore of this rath : rath Aine ?" Caeilte answered : 
" I possess its origin : — 

" It was Aine, daughter of Modharn king of Scotland across 
the sea ; to whom the men of Alba kept saying : * what ails thee, 
lady, that with some good man [i.e. one of high degree] in either 
Alba or Erin thou matest not?' The young woman affirmed 
that, Finn mac Cumall excepted, in those lands was no man that 
might match her ; and her words being reported to Finn he 
commissioned Finn, called y^r^« champair or *man of quarrel,' 
and Ronan the royal Sglaechy Scotland's two Fian-chiefs, to go 
and to crave her of her father. * What conditions shall we take 
with us ?' they asked. * Promise her power over all that I possess 
both in Ireland and in Scotland.' * Fian-chief, it is well : but send 
with us now two confidentials of thine own people, to the end 
the lady may the more readily believe us.' Finn told me and 
mac Lughach to accompany them, saying: * although in my behalf 
ye shall undertake never so much, yet will I give it to her.' 

"We four free-born óglaechs therefore took our way to dun 
manaidhy or * Edinburgh,' in Scotland ; there we were quartered 
in a special house apart, in which Modharn king of Scotland, and 
together with him his daughter Aine, came to visit us. He ques- 
tioned us anent our expedition and our journey ; we told him 
all our charge. * Thou hearest that, daughter,' said the king : 
*that the best man in Ireland and in Scotland solicits thee.' 
The young woman answered: *I will go with him' and, upon 
condition that all she asked of him were given her, was betrothed 
to Finn mac Cumall. We and the girl with us (she furnished 
with all sorts of precious chattels in abundance) returned to Ire- 
land and came to this rath where we are ; Finn too and the three 

The Colloquy. i8i 

battles of the Fianna arrived hither from Tara-luachra to meet 
and to fall in with us. Here she caused to be constructed a 
mansion, a proper town and a lodge of her own, in which for a 
year she [of her own substance] ministered to and entertained 
the Fianna's three battles in such style that neither they nor our 
guests lacked meat or liquor at all. 

" At a year's end then mac Lughach said to Finn : * by way of 
country and of lands Modharn's daughter Aine is all-sufficient 
for thee.' Finn answered : * by my word, mac Lughach, I know 
not what I could require, whether in Ireland or in Scotland, that 
the Fianna have not in Aine's house.' Subsequently this queen 
was with Finn for seven whole years, during which she abun- 
dantly gratified all Ireland and Scotland ; she bore Finn two 
sons : Illann of the red edge and Aedh Begy but died in child- 
birth of Aedh" :— 

Caeilte cecinit, 

" Empty to-day is Aine's rath, in which once young men laughed many a 
laugh ; frequent were men in crowds, horses in studs, upon its slope with the 
smooth sward. Three hundred ladies were in the liss (many are they that 
are in ignorance of it) ; three hundred men of trust were there, three hundred 
fosterers of befitting quality. Better than all other women that woman was ; 
and such the multiude of her guests— one and all are dead together now — 
that she made her town to be all empty [i.e. exhausted it]. 

" Here she was laid in excavations of the earth," continued 
Caeilte, " her stone was reared over her resting-place, her funeral 
ceremony was performed, and her ogham-name inscribed." 

"Victory and benediction be thine, Caeilte!" cried the king 
of Ulidia : " a good story it is that thou hast told us ; and be it 
by you others written on the tabular staves of poets and on 
monumental stones of the Fianna." 

The king of Ulidia with his force now proceeded to rath na 
sciath or * the rath of shields,' standing over the boisterous trácht 
Rudhraighe or * Rury's strand': the present tonn Rudhraighe or 
*Rury's wave.' They entered the dwelling, and a sequestered 
house apart was assigned to Caeilte ; he was served well, and 
the whole town from small to great committed to his discretion. 

Again the king of Ulidia questioned Caeilte: "here are two 
graves on Rury's strand : what is their origin ?" " It was two 
that were sons to Aedh mac Fidach mac Fintan, king of Con- 
nacht, and were buried there ; these were dear to Finn and to 

i82 The Colloquy. 

the Fianna all, the cause of whose love for them was this : that 
whatever the paucity or whatever the copiousness of art and 
mystery possessed by any it never would come unrewarded 
away from them [i.e. their generosity to artists was not regulated 
by their degree of proficiency in art] ; neither was any ever in 
dispute with Finn and the Fianna but they would for a year's 
time make peace between them. A single-handed match for a 
hundred óglaechs either of them was, and they would have made 
a worthy pair of sons whether for Cormac son of Art or for 
Finn ; seventeen years they were in the Fianna. Now once upon 
a time Finn and the three battles, in exercise of their privilege 
to hunt all Ireland, came hither to Rury's strand and Finn pre- 
scribed to keep watch and ward. Two sons of kings with their 
people it was that nightly mounted guard over Finn and the 
Fianna, and on the night in question the duty fell to the king of 
Connacht's two : Art and Eoghan. They moved off, four hundred 
oglaecks all told, with four hundred gillas, and marched to the 
head of this strand ; there they had not been any time when up 
came two kings of the kings of Lochlann in the north : Conus 
and Conmael were their names, whose fathers had been slain by 
Finn mac Cumall in the battle of druint derg over in Scotland. 
Both which kings, being two valiant and equal battalions strong, 
gained this shore in order to the avenging of their father upon 
Finn, but saw four hundred that bore shield and weapon drawn 
up ready before them on the beach ; the manner of the king of 
Connacht s son Art being that he had a sharp glittering-edged 
spear of special deadly virtue which Finn had a twelvemonth 
before given to him : the órlasrach or * gold-flaming' was its 
name ; another spear too there was, that Finn had given to 
Eoghan : the muinderg or * red- neck' it was called. 

"Then the atltnarachs enquired who warded the shore, and 
Art returned that they were of Finn's people. ' Happy he that 
should drop on so many as these of his folk, for not one of you 
shall escape alive I' said they. * If ever a set of them were caught 
in a quandary, 'tis not we that are so taken now,' answered Art 
The others landed, and those eight hundred aglaechs found it a 
huge strain to make head against the two valorous and equal 
battalions ; at it they went however, hand to hand, and from the 
fall of evening's shades until midnight the hacking and the hew- 

The Colloquy. 183 

ing went on apace. That was the hour in which Finn had a 
vision, and what he saw was this : a pair of grey seals that sucked 
his own two breasts. The Fian- chief awoke and: 'where is 
Fergus True-lips ?* he asked. * Here/ said Fergus : ' what hast 
thou seen ?' 'A couple of ocean seals that sucked both my breasts.' 
The poet said: *it is the king of Connacht's two sons, whom 
this night thou sentest to stand sentry for the Fiann, that are 
overmatched by aUmarachsJ * Rise, men,' cried Finn, * for what 
the poet says is true I' Simultaneously, at the one instant, the 
Fianna rose out and came to Rury's strand, where of their own 
they found but the king of Connacht's two sons alive, and they 
with the slings of their shields about their necks ; nor of the 
ullmarachs lived there a man at all. Here is the plight in which 
the king of Connacht's sons were found: their bodies full of 
bloody gashes, their shields and spears propping them in stand- 
ing posture still. No two of the Fianna had ever maintained 
personal conflict thus. By the Fianna the ships which had been 
the Lochlannachs' were hauled ashore, and they proceeded to 
pillage them ; the king of Lochlann's two sons, Conus and Con- 
mael, were laid in excavations of the earth. The king of Conn- 
acht's sons died within a very brief space ; for here over Rury's 
wave the Fianna lifted and bore them off, and Finn enquired 
of the wounded: 'friends, are ye perchance curable?* They 
answered: *alas that thou, thine own perception also being so 
good, shouldst say it! for round about either of us came nine 
hundred laechs ; who all are fallen indeed, but we too are fallen. 
Be our grave made therefore, and our stone reared over the place 
of our rest ; the arms likewise with which we have played the 
men, and which thou gavest us in stipend, be the same buried 
along with us.' Body parted from soul with them and they, two 
brothers as they were, were there laid in excavations of the earth. 
This then is the cause for which tlieir fame and high repute have 
endured after them." 

Eochaid Red-edge said : " by thy valour and by thy weapon- 
skill, Caeilte, I adjure thee that those arms thou bring up for us 
out of the sod-covered grave." He made answer: "for sake of 
Finn mac Cumall and of the great and gallant company that 
buried them, loath I am to do it; nevertheless ye shall have 
them." They set to and opened the tomb; the weapons were 

184 The Colloquy. 

taken out: the órlasrach and the muinderg\ this latter spear of 
which was now given to Angus the king of Uiidia's son, the 
former to that king himself. This done the dead were returned 
to the grave and their stone restored over their resting-place ; 
cath trágha Rudhraighe or *the battle of Rury's strand' is this 
battle's name therefore, and it is one of the special articles of 

The king of Ulidia cried: "have success and benediction, 
Caeilte ! great information is this that thou hast deposited with 
us." They passed into the dwelling, a banquetting-house was 
disposed for them, and in it they passed that night mirthfully. 

But as regards Caeilte : next day he was weighed down with 
a fit of inertness and of old age ; wherefore the king of tJlidia 
came to visit him and, when he was set down beside him on the 
couch, said : " Fian-chief, how goes it with thee to-day ?" " Might 
I but get to hunt Ben-Boirche, *tis all the better I should be." 
The king answered: "verily thou shalt have it." His wolf-dogs 
and other hounds were gathered to Eochaid, and he went north- 
ward to benna Boirche or * Boirche's peaks,' i.e. * the Moume moun- 
tains '; Caeilte accompanied him and for that day ordered the 
hunt in such wise that from ethach to the tidal wave due north 
of Ben-Boirche each man could put the dog-thong into the 
other's hand [i.e. reach him the leash]. 

Now where Caeilte and the king were was at the Wave actually, 
where in scrutiny of the sea they gazed far and wide; then abroad 
upon the surface they perceived a quite young woman and she 
at one time swimming on her back, then doing the side-stroke, 
and anon the * foot-stroke ' [i.e. treading water]. Right in front 
of them now she sat on a wave as though she sat on some tulach 
or on a rock ; she lifted her head and said : " is not that yonder 
Caeilte son of Ronan ?" " Truly it is I," he answered. " Many 
a day we saw thee upon that rock, and in company of the best 
man that was in Ireland and Scotland: Finn son of Cumall." 
" Woman, who art thou so ?" "I am Hbhán^ daughter of Eochaid 
mac Eoghan mac Ailill, who for now a hundred years am in 
the water, nor since the Fian-chief departed have till this day 
appeared to any ; and what moved me to shew myself to-day 
was to see Caeilte." Hereupon the deer, flying before the hounds 
and taking the water, swam out into the sea: "Caeilte," cried 

The Colloquy. 185 

Liban, " a loan of the spear to me till I kill the deer and send 
them ashore up to you !" Into her hand Caeilte put the coscarach^ 
with which she slew the deer ; and the most copious hunting that 
Finn ever made in that spot, that which Caeilte and the king of 
Ulidia had this day was as large. Touching the young woman, 
she then darted the spear upwards and ashore to Caeilte and so 
departed from them. They that know all about it say that to 
every five men of the Ulidians on that day fell a wild pig, a stag 
and a doe ; while to the king of Ulidia and to Caeilte for their 
aliquot share came thirty deer. After which they went on to rath 
na sciath which at the present is called rdth imill or * the external 
rath'; and so far then we have *the Hunting of Ben-Boirche/ 
with * the Colloquy of Liban and Caeilte.' 

They went into the rath, where a feasting- and a pleasure- 
house was set out for them, and in the same Caeilte saw a thing 
that surprised him: a gentle yellow-haired damsel in the Fian- 
seat, dispensing jewels and treasure in lieu of all the poems and 
other artistic efforts that were put forth within. Caeilte questioned 
the king: "who is the young woman to whom above all the rest 
reverence and great honour is rendered ?" " Daughter she was 
to an aglaech of mine of whose seed now live none but this girl ; 
and the manner of her, Caeilte, is this : she has a half-quatrain, 
and in all Ireland she cannot find one to compose a half-quatrain 
that shall fit it as its own." Caeilte said : " I am no man of 
verse ; howbeit, lass, pronounce the half-quatrain." The girl 
uttered, and Caeilte after her : — 

''A dark man's dún^ and O a dark man's dún^ that is the mansion which 
our blood imbrues!" 

dixit Caeilte : — 

" All the Fianna are decayed away, not a munificent one lives of the last 
of them." 

Caeilte laid the horn out of his hand and wept copious tears, 
very lamentable, so that breast and chest were wet with him. 
"That quatrain's meaning, Caeilte, my soul?" exclaimed the 
king. " Its meaning I have," said Caeilte, " but alas for me that 
I have to moot that to which it refers. For knowest thou, king 
of Ulidia, the four that of all such as in Ireland and in Scot- 
land lived at the one time and in the same epoch with them 
excelled in generosity: Finn mac Cumall and Ossian his son, 

1 86 The Colloquy. 

and Dubh soil of Treon of the Ulidians here, with his son Fial 
mac Dubh ? In which two latter was even a degree of bounti- 
fulness in excess of the others ; for though all that was in Ire- 
land and in Scotland had been bestowed on them yet, had they 
but found one to crave it of them, they would have given away 
the whole of it. Wherefore to Cormac and to Finn it seemed a 
pitiable thing that they should be affected with this degree of 
liberality, and lack adequate great substance to give it effect 

"Then came all Ireland once to the Convention of Tailltex 
the Fianna's three battles, and all the folk of settled habitation 
as well ; Dubh son of Treon and his son Fial mac Dubh arrived, 
and sat before the king of Ireland, to whom (saving that he had 
heard of them) they were unknown. He that was at Cormac's 
shoulder waá Finn mac Cumall ; Ossian at Finn's hand, and 
Cairbre Lifechair at Cormac's other side. * Good now, my soul, 
Cormac,* said Finn: *is the warrior in thy presence known to 
thee?' Cormac replied: 'surely he is not* 'Those are Dubh 
son of Treon out of the province of Ulidia in the north, and his 
son Fial mac Dubh.* Cormac enquired : * is that latter the needy 
óglaech of whom we hear much mention made ?' * That is he 
just,* said Finn. Again Cormac enquired, saying: 'where is Fial 
mac Dubh?' 'Here by me,* answered Dubh. 'What occasions 
this generosity that is in you both father and son, and ye but 
óglaechí sons?* 'Noble sir and monarch,' said Fial, 'were we 
to deny or refuse a thing to any man we should, as we suppose, 
die: both father and son.* Cairbre Lifechair and Ossian said: 
* men of Ireland, a pity 'tis for you not to give Dubh mac Treon 
and his son some succour and relief!' Cormac, Finn, and all 
Ireland's chiefs said: 'we will administer to them that comfort 
of which ye speak ; for it is upon the nien of Ireland that all 
whatsoever shall be given to them will be expended.' Cormac 
pronounced : * yearly I will give them one hundred of every kind 
of cattle.* ' Yearly will I give them even so many,* said Finn ; 
and the nobles of Ireland promised them yet other great riches.* 
So Dubh mac Treon betook himself to his own dwelling, where 
for full seventeen years he continued to spend that substance ; 
nor were it possible to recount all the good which he did during 
that interval, and until upon the green of his own mansion one 
night there befel him an accident and a mischance: the advent 

The Colloquy. 187 

to ráih Dhuibh or ' Dubh's rath ' of a bewitching fairy troop of 
horsemen, who enquired what town it were. Some one or another 
said to them : * this is the town of Dubh mac Treon ; that is to 
say of that special óglaech who, whether of the sons of Milesius 
or of the tuatha dé danann^ is for generosity pre-eminent' Says 
a man of the new-comers : ' pity forsooth that of the tuatha di 
danann we have not one to match him !' and another, taking a 
deadly javelin that he had, threw and hit Dubh in the p^le of the 
nipple, so killing him ; then Fial his son took his place and 
held it for the space of ten years and three score. But good now, 
young woman, and inasmuch as their story thou requiredst of me, 
what relationship hadst thou with these ?" " A daughter to that 
latter óglaech^ to Fial mac Dubh, am I,'" she answered, " and of 
that great fellowship which thou hast seen, saving me only there 
lives none ; wherefore also it is, Caeilte, that Ulidia's king hath 
given me the charge over his jewels and his treasure to dispense 
them." " What is thy name ?" " Uaine daughter of Fial." « It 
is indeed a fitting thing for the king of Ulidia to give thee the 
discretion of his precious things and of his wealth." 

Then the king of Ulidia said to his son, to Angus mac Eochaid : 
" Angus, my soul, take that girl to wife ; for not in another pro- 
vince in Ireland wih thou find one having a father's and grand- 
father's record better than hers"; whereupon the young man 
wedded her, and so long as he lived had her for only wife. 
Following upon all this they remained feasting and enjoying 
themselves till the end of three days. 

Again the king of Ulidia said to Caeilte : " in order to hunt 
and to have sport of venery I would fain go to foradh naféinne 
or *the Fianna's seat' here." Early on the morrow then they 
took their way, three battles of them, to foradh naféinne ; which 
when they had reached the gentles and Caeilte entered into the 
great liss that was there, and Caeilte seeing the place said : 
"many indeed were they that out of this precinct had their 
hunger and thirst assuaged, and were paid for their art and 
science, by Finn mac Cumall." There Ulidia's king and nobles, 
Caeilte also, set them down ; nor were they long there before 
they saw draw near them a scoUg or * non-warrior' that wore a 
fair green mantle having in it a fibula of silver; a shirt of yellow 
silk next his skin, over and outside that again a tunic of soft 

1 88 The Colloquy. 

satin, and with a timpan of the best slung on his back. " Whence 
comest thou, scológV asked the king. "Out of the sidh of the 
Daghda's son Bodhb Derg, out of Ireland's southern part." 
"What moved thee out of the south, and who art thou thyself?" 
" I am Cos corach, son of Cainchinn that is ollave to the tuat/ta dé 
dananHy and am myself the makings of an ollave [i.e. an aspirant 
to the grade]. What started me was the design to acquire 
knowledge, and information, and lore for recital, and the Fianna's 
mighty deeds of valour, from Caeilte son of Ronan." Then he 
took his timpan and made for them music and minstrelsy, so 
that he set them slumbering off to sleep. " Good now, Caeilte, 
my soul," said Cascorach, "what- answer retumest thou me?" 
" That thou shalt have everything to seek which thou art come 
and, if thou have but so much art and intellect as shall suffice to 
learn all that the Fianna wrought of valorous deeds and exploits 
of arms [thou shalt hear the same]. In this town once was an 
6glaech\ Finn mac Cumall, and great would have been thy 
wealth and stipend from him in lieu of thy minstrelsy, although 
to-day the place be empty !" and Caeilte uttered : — 

" This night the Fianna's seat is void, to which Finn of the naked blade 
resorted ; from death of the chief that knew not melancholy, Almha the noble 
and the great is desert ! The goodly company live not ; Finn, the very 
prince, lives no more ; no longer the cohort manifest to view, nor champions, 
accompany the Fian-chief. Finn's Fianna, though once they roamed from 
glen to glen, are dead one and all ; a wretched life it is to be as I am now : 
left after Dermot and Conan I after Goll mac Moma from the plain, and after 
Olioll of the hundreds ! after that Eoghan of the bright spear perished^ and 
Conall, at the first discharge ! Once for all I tell you, and all that which I 
say is true : great were our losses yonder (even without Dubhdirma) at teck 
drumann. The cohorts and the hundreds thus being gone, pity but 'twere 
there I had found death! gone, for all they once ranged from border to 
border, and though the Fianna's seat was crowded once !'' 

To his heed and mind Caeilte then recalled the losses of all 
those warriors and great numerous bands among whom he had 
been ; and miserably, wearily, he wept so that breast and chest 
were wet with him. After which they came on to tulach an trir 
or 'hill of three persons,' upon which the king of Ulidia and 
Caeilte and all the rest as well sat down. 

" This is a beautiful hill, Caeilte," the king said : " but where- 
fore was the name of tulach an trir conferred on it, and abltann 
déise or * river of two persons* on this river; also lecht cinn chon 

The Colloquy. 189 

or 'grave of the wolf-dog's head' upon yonder tomb?" Caeilte 
answered : " I will tell thee, although the origin of them be not 
new and that I myself was not old [i.e. was very young] when 
those names clave to these spots : — 

" It was a king that was in Scotland : Iruath mac Alpine, and 
had daughters three : Muiresc and Aeife and Aillbhe were their 
names. These fell in love with three óglaechs of the Fianna of 
It*eland : Encherd of Beare's three sons Ger and Glas and Gabha ; 
which óglaechs also fell in love with them, and for twenty years 
there was reciprocal affection between them. But once upon a 
time [i.e. at length] the women eloped and came to this tulach^ 
where a fit of sleep and slumber fell on them. That was the 
very hour and time at which by the son of Macnia's son Maccon, 
and in the province of Leinster, a fearsome bruidken was set in 
Finn mac Cumall's way; nor may poets attain to recount all that 
fell there of the Fianna and of Fatha Canann's folk. There 
moreover perished those three pinks of valour: Encherd of 
Beare's three sons. Concerning the three damsels : they awoke 
out of their sleep and saw towards them three óglaechs of the 
Fianna ; they enquired of them, and these told them how the 
bruidhen was come off : with slaughter made of the Fianna, and 
fall of Encherd of Beare's three sons. Upon this tulach the girls 
uttered their loud woe and lamentation, and for grief of those 
three died. Which young women had two own foster-brethren, , 
sons of the king of the Catti In the north : Uillenn and Eochaid 
were their names. These had made a stout and vigorous attempt 
in pursuit of their foster-sisters, and so reached this river ; the . 
stream however was in spate against them, but on the yon-side 
they saw rich and marvellous vestures [i.e. on the young women 
as they lay], whereupon with all boldness they took the ford and 
the river's flood drowned them. These then are they that are 
beneath those two green mounds which are at the ford's edge. 

" Lecht cinn chon now," continued Caeilte : " it was a favourite 
wolf-dog that Finn mac Cumall had, the name of which was 
Adhnuall^ and from the aforesaid bruidhen he wandered aimlessly 
away northwards and was all astray. Thrice he scoured all 
Ireland, and at last gained this ford where he emitted three 
howls and there died ; which hound, king of Ulidia, was the 
third [i.e. one of the three] best that Finn ever had. 

IQO The Colloquy. 

"As touching UHdia's two Fian-chiefs, Goll of Gulban and 
Cas of Cuailgne : they hunted this plain, and saw three young 
women having upon them raiment of the rarest, of all colours, 
and they dead upon the tulach. For a long space they made 
lamentation for them, then under ground laid all three sisters. 
They entered the for<i and in it saw the two óglaechs^ drowned ; 
these two they laid beneath sods of the earth." 

His tale being told, Caeilte bids the king of Ulidia farewell 
and up the face of hills and crags takes his way to the summit 
of green-grassed Slievefuad, to the rowan-tree of cluain da damh 
or * two-stag lawn,' and to roe nagcarpat or * the space of chariots' : 
the spot in which formerly the Ulidians marching here after the 
battle of gairidhe and ilghairidhe [i.e. the final encounter of tain 
bo Cuailgne or 'the raid for the kine of Cuailgne'] abandoned 
their chariots. When he got so far, thither also (to the same roe 
na gcarpaf) Patrick was just come with thrice fifty bishops, as 
many priests, as many deacons, and three times fifty psalmodists. 
There they sat down, and Patrick performed his Hours with 
praising of the Creator. At this instant, I say, Caeilte and his 
nine, together with Cascorach mac Cainchinne, the minstrel, 
joined them. They greeted him with welcome, the clerics fell 
to question him for news, and he told them all his doings for 
that year past. 

"Where is scribe Brogan?" Patrick cried. He responded: 
"here am I." "By thee be written down and amended all that 
Caeilte hath enunciated concerning the interval since at the 
piliar-stone on the top of Usnach he parted from us and to this 
very present hour." 

** Good now, my soul," queried Patrick : " who is yonder hand- 
some curly-headed dark-browed youth along with thee, and he 
having an instrument of music?" "Cascorach mac Cainchinne 
that is," answered Caeilte, "son of the tuathadé dananris minstrel, 
who is come to me to acquire knowledge and Fian-lore." "A 
good road it is that he hath chosen and, Caeilte, thou hast been 
spared for signal privilege : to see the time of faith, of saints, of 
righteous, and to be in fellowship with the King of Heaven and 
of Earth. And thou, Cascorach, play for us somewhat of thy 
minstrel's art and craft" " Verily it shall be done," Cascorach 
answered : " and never before thee, saintly cleric, have I done ^o 

The Colloquy. 191 

for any whom I gratified more willingly than I will thee." He 
took his timpan, tuned it, and on it played a volume of melody 
the equal of which for sweetness (saving only the dominical 
canon's harmony and laudation of Heaven's King and Earth's) 
the clergy had never heard. Upon them fell a fit of slumber 
and of sleep and, when he had made an end with his minstrelsy, 
of Patrick he requested its recompense. The Saint said: "what 
guerdon seekest thou, my soul?" "Heaven for myself," he 
answered, " which is the best reward that is ; good luck also to 
go with my art and with them that shall exercise my art after 
me." Patrick said : " to thyself be Heaven, and be that art of 
thine the third [i.e. one of the three] for sake of which in 
Ireland one shall to the latest time procure his own advance- 
ment ; how great soever be the grudging surliness which shall 
greet a man of thy science : let him but perform minstrelsy, let 
him but recite tales, and such penuriousness shall vanish before 
him ; everlastingly may thine art number to itself the chiefs 
bed-fellow, and to them that profess it be all happiness, only so 
as they in their function show not slothfulness." Then to its 
case Cascorach restored his implement of music. 

"A good cast of thine art was that thou gavest us," said Brogan. 
" Good indeed it were," said Patrick, " but for a twang of the 
fairy spell that infests it; barring which nothing could more 
nearly than it resemble Heaven's harmony." Says Brogan : " if 
music there be in Heaven, why should there not on earth? 
wherefore it is not right to banish away minstrelsy." Patrick 
made answer: "neither say I any such thing, but merely incul- 
cate that we must not be inordinately addicted to it" 

They were not long there when they saw a sedate silvery-grey 
warrior draw near to them : a crimson mantle with a brooch of 
gold wrapped him round, to his neck was slung a gilded sword 
and in one hand he had a staff of white hazel. He laid his head 
in Patrick's bosom, and made genuflexion. " Of what cognomen 
art thou?" asked the Saint "Eoghan the arch-hospitaller is 
my name, and I am of the king of Ireland's people: of Dermot 
mac Cerbhall's." " Are thine the hands in which we have heard 
that such great substance is?" "Even mine," he said. "This 
very night we quarter ourselves on thy resources," cried bishop 
Soichell, who was Patrick's iiead dispenser. Eoghan enquired : 

192 The Colloquy. 

"and what night may this be?" *^ Samhain-ev^^^^ replied Patrick. 
"From to-night until Beltane-eve ye as many as ye are, both 
your familia and your guests, shall have welcome with me." 
Benignus said : " a fat monk it is that the cleric hath recruited " ; 
but Patrick pronounced: "he shall go to serve Mocha [i.e. 
Armagh] in the north ; and if fat he be, so too shall his son be 
and his grandson after him." Benignus rejoined again : " what 
name then could be conferred on them that were better than 
úi mhéith Mhacha or 'the descendants of Macha's fat one *?" 

Then they marked fifty tall men having iron fibulae in their 
mantles that approached them. " Who be these ?" Patrick asked. 
Eoghan answered : " my hospitallers and my biatac/is " ; and these 
all made obeisance to Patrick, who cried: "your posterity both 
living and dead be assigned to Mocha !" 

Upon the whole province now distress of cold settled and 
heavy snow came down so that it reached men's shoulders and 
chariots* axle-trees, and of the russet forest's branches made a 
twisting together as it had been of withes, so that men might not 
progress there. 

Caeiite said then: "a fitting time it is now for wild stags and 
for does to seek the topmost points of hills and rocks ; a timely 
season for salmons to betake them into cavities of the banks." 
And he uttered a lay : — 

" Cold the winter is, the wind is risen, the high-couraged unquelled stag 
is on foot: bitter cold to-night the whole mountain is, yet for all that the 
ungovernable stag is belling. The deer of Slievecam of the gatherings 
commits not his side to the ground ; no less than he the stag of frigid Echtge's 
summit catches the chorus of the wolves. I, Caeiite, with brown Dermot and 
with keen light-footed Oscar : we too in the nipping night's waning end would 
listen to the music of the pack. But well the red deer sleeps that with his 
hide to the bulging rock lies stretched — hidden as though beneath the 
country's surface — all in the latter end of chilly night. To-day I am an aged 
ancient, and but a scant few men I know ; once on a time though in the cold 
and ice-bound morning I used to vibrate a sharp javelin hardily. To 
Heaven's King I offer thanks, to Mary Virgin's Son as well ; often and often 
I imposed silence on [i.e. daunted] a whole host whose plight to-night is very 
cold [i.e. they are all dead now]." 

" It is time for us to depart to our mansion and good town," 
said Eoghan. They took their way therefore and soon saw the 
dwelling before them ; at which when they arrived Caeiite with 

The Colloquy. 19 


his people was ushered into a secluded lodge apart, the town was 
laid at their own discretion and (saving only such length of time 
as the clerics took to give Mass, to say their hours and to laud the 
Creator) there they all were for three days and three nights, 
quafBng and taking their pleasure. 

Then came Eoghan the head hospitaller to confer with Patrick, 
and he began to tell him how that there was no water near at 
hand to them ; for people were wearied with bringing water to 
the town. And a wonder it was [to the new-comers to see] that 
day how the same town lay, it being as it were an occult hole in 
the earth : for round about it over and hither was a mountain, 
nor was it furnished with any opening but a single one, out of 
which egress took place ; so that all the men in the world how- 
ever much they had ambitioned it would not have availed to 
ravage or to spoil it. Patrick enquired of Eoghan : " found ye 
traces of any band or company that should have preceded you 
into the place?" Eoghan replied: "we got a spear, a sword and 
an iron vessel." " Knowledge of the well will be found with 
Caeilte," said Patrick ; a messenger was sent to fetch Caeilte, and 
he was brought to the Saint. 

" Good now^, Caeilte, my soul," said Patrick : " knowest thou who 
it was that before Eoghan occupied this seat?" "An easy thing 
it is for me to know it," he made answer, " seeing that I was one 
of the eight that were at the giving of this town to the man on 
whom Finn mac Cumall conferred it: the solitary warrior that 
ever by use of compulsion effected his fellowship with Finn, 
Conan namely, son of the Hath Luachra or *grey man of 
Luachra,* out of the west. For it was befallen him to have 
worked Finn great mischief: as to have from one samhain-Mxa^ 
to another slain a wolf-dog, a gilla and an óglaech of the Fianna, 
besides the killing of one among the three best men appertain- 
ing to clan-Ronan: Aedh rinn mac Ronan, together with his 
three sons Aedh and Eoghan and Eobhran. [Conan's device 
was executed thus :] the Fian-chief being come to cam Luighdech 
or * Lughaid's cairn * in the west, in the province of Munster, and 
he after the chase sitting down there, here came Conan at him 
from behind, and round his shoulders outside of all his armature 
clasped the chief captain before he was aware. Finn recognised 
who he was that thus had taken him, and: Svhat wouldest 



194 ^^^ Colloquy. 

thoii, Conan?' he said. *To make my covenant of service, 
to have fellowship, to cement fealty with thee ; for I am now 
seven years in exercise of marauding and of outlawry upon thee, 
and may no longer shift to endure thy wrath/ But Finn said : 

* even though I took thee, yet so great is the evil and iniquity 
thou hast wrought all Ireland's Fianna that I cannot deem they 
would admit thee to peace/ *Do but thou receive me, Fian- 
chief, and leave the rest between the Fianna and myself* *I 
will,' said Finn, 'although for my part it is a service-contract 
extorted forcibly/ Thus did Finn receive him, and Conan enlisted 
with him and became one of his people. Then in detachments 
and in companies the Fianna arrived, and to each band of them 
as they came up it was an astonishment to behold in one and the 
same place those two that in all Ireland and Scotland had been 
the greatest enemies. 

" * Conan,' said the Fianna, ' it is well ; but in lieu of the great 
injuries thou hast done us what hast thou to offer?' 'Every 
strait peril, every extremity, every great harm that shall over- 
take you, be it I that first shall adventure myself against it — but 
on these terms : that if I fall in the matter [and ye suffer] your 
enmities be heaped on me ; if I fall not [and ye be rescued], 
the fame and lustre of it to be mine.' Ossian answered : * verily, 
and by our words, never have we had conditions better than 
these.' Whereupon peace was made with Conan. 

" Finn enquired : 'how many of a following art thou, Conan ?' 

* Five hundred óglaechs^ five hundred gillas^ and as many hounds/ 

* Thou being so many in force,' said Finn, * search out Ireland 
for thyself, and whatsover triucha céd in her thou shalt choose 
I will give it thee.' We therefore," continued Caeilte, "eight 
óglaechs of us, accompanied him hither to this town in which we 
are ; nor till he gained it had Conan, for all that the Fianna had 
admitted him to peace, felt confidence in any other. But when 
he saw this spot that it was an obscure refuge, strong and 
impregnable, he was in love with it; with all his force and 
following he came therefore, for a space of thirty years the place 
was possessed by him, and every battle and bicker that occurred 
during that time he continually affronted the first hazard of 
them all/' 

Patrick questioned: "what was the manner of that Conan's 

The Colloquy. 195 

death ?" " He was one of the four men of the Fianna that died in 
his bed [///. *on pillow']: a venomous worm it was that settled 
in his head; and in the same interval, between one canonical 
hour and another, he perished." 

Again Patrick asked: "what served him for water here?" 
Caeilte said : " a well of spring-water that is in the town." " Tis 
a mysterious place where it is then," said Eoghan, " for on the 
earth's surface we cannot find it." " But a few of the Fianna 
were they to whom it was familiar until such time as a certain 
óglaech of them hit upon it, and I after him, lastly the man of the 
place himself." "Who was the first aglaeckV' said Patrick. 
" Aedh son of Finn ; and I affirm that in all Ireland was not a 
spot in which, whether from cliff, from river, from estuary or from 
any fastness, human being had ever drawn beaker- or bowl-ful 
of water but he would at midnight make his way to it Now 
where the well is," added Caeilte, " is in the rugged-headed rock's 
very side, and covered in with a most solid hermetically-fitted lid 
of stone. Many a day Smirgat and Derdubh from dubhsliabh or 
'black-mountain ' found it I " and he uttered: — 

"I know a well upon the southern side which shall procure you your 
especial weal ; within the which, right in its midst, for you a sparkling perfect 
water is. * Water the dun will never have,* quoth Eoghan innocent of ill 
intent, ' unless the King of Heaven help us, and gentle radiant Mary's precious 
Son.' Good my prowess in the battle was against the men from over sea : 
fifty thrice told that made a gallant show fell by me there. Smirgat daughter 
of the generous Fathach, Derdubh from the mountain black : a pair beloved 
and that would range afar to spy out and deliver their enemies to the Fianna 
I was the Caeilte that was endowed with form ; many were they whom I 
forced to pant out uck I when by virtue of my running only I got together a t/ 
couple, male and female, of all wild creatures in existence. A good folk Finn's 
people were — alas for him that in Ireland survives them! much of alacrity . 
the impetuous brotherhood possessed, and many were the lands in which they 
knew their way about 1 " 

Says Patrick : " the thing is to go now and to find the well." 
"I dread to find it," said Caeilte: "for nine warriors they were 
that used to lift off its cover, and even so many that used to 
put it on again ; I fear lest the welFs water [being released] 
drown the town." But the Saint rejoined : " God is well able 
to mete it out as shall be expedient." Caeilte proceeded, they 
went with him ; and a mighty block of stone that projected 
from the town's side [i.e. from the natural wall of rock that 

O 2 

. I 

196 The Colloquy. 

hemmed it round] — Caeilte clasped both his arms about it and 
dragged it to him, whereby out of the rock leaped a very vehe- 
ment burst of clearest water, most delicious to the view, and 
straightway began to completely swamp the town. Here how- 
ever Patrick raises the mild hand of faith that ever relieved all 
stress and all straits on which it was brought to bear, and into 
the rock and mountain the water is swallowed back again : all 
but the fill of Patrick's hollowed palm that trickled gently out. 
Benignus cried : " bos Phátraic or ' Patrick's palm ' be the well's 
name for the future!" "I license it to be so," Patrick said, 
" until in the latter time fratricide shall by them of its country 
be committed in the town." 

They, Patrick and Caeilte and so many as they had with them 
in the dwelling, came out upon the green ; and soon they saw come 
towards them a solitary óglaech^ whose description was this: next 
to his skin he had a shirt of yellow silk, a handsome green mantle 
round him, and in the same a brooch of gold surmounting his 
breast "Who art thou, young man?" asked Caeilte. "Aedh 
son of Aedh na nabasach from cnoc árdmhulla abroad in the sea, 
which at this time is called rachlainn or rachrainn^ i.e. * Rathlin ' 
or * Raghery ' island. I am leading youth of the tuatha dé 
danann in general, and to enquire somewhat of thee I am 
come now." "Young man, what wouldst thou enquire of me?" 
returned Caeilte. "There is not anything of which I would 
interrogate thee sooner than of the reason why the name of cam 
Manannáin or * Manannan's cairn ' is given to this one." Then 
Caeilte began : — 

" It was a warrior of the tttatha dé danann : Aillén mac Eogabaily 
that fell in love with the wife of Manannan mac Lir ; while 
Aillen's sister, Aine daughter of Eogabal, fell in love with Man- 
annan, to whom again she was dearer than the whole human 
tribe besides. Aine asked of her brother now, of Aillen : * what 
is it that hath wasted \lit * made to ebb '] the king-like stately 
form that clothed thee once ?* * By my word and verily, young 
woman,* Aillen said, ' thine only self excepted there is not of the 
human race one to whom I would disclose the matter'; and 
he told her: *it is that I am enamoured of Uchtdelbh or 'Breast- 
shape,' i.e. * of the shapely bosom,' Angus Finn's daughter and 
wife of Manannan.' *In my hand lies the remedy for thatl' 

The Colloquy. 197 

cries Aine : ' For Manannan is in love with me and, if he give 
thee his wife, I will as the price of procuring thee relief yield him 
my society/ They, Aillen and Aine, came away as far as to this 
tulach^ whither Manannan too (his wife with him) arrived. Aine 
took her seat at Manannan's right hand, and gave him three 
loving passionate kisses ; then they sought news one of the 
other. But when Manannan's wife saw Aillen she loved him — " 
Here Patrick interrupting said : " why this is a complicated bit 
of romance: that Aillen mac Eogabal's sister should love Man- 
annan, and Manannan's wife fancy Aillen"; whence the old 
adage : ' romancing is a complicated affair.' Caeilte resumed : 
" so Manannan handed over his own wife to Eogabal's son Aillen, 
himself taking Aillen's sister Aine ; and these, Aedh, my soul, 
are the two complementary answers to the question [///. * are the 
two queries '] which thou hast put to me." 

In that town they abode the length of a week ; then they bade 
farewell to chief-hospitaller Eoghan and, in guerdon of all that 
this latter had done by way of compliance with his will, the 
Saint granted him Heaven. 

Then they progressed eastwardly to glenn an scdil or ' glen of 
the champion,' which at the present is called muinter Dhiughra : 
(the place where to Mílchú macu-Buain king of Dalaradia Patrick 
once had been in bondage), and they see before them a flourishing 
church in which were thirty young ecclesiastics that fervently 
glorified the Creator. Upon looking away in the other direction 
they perceive again a church having beside it a fair green close, 
and : " to the King of Heaven and of Earth we give thanks for it," 
said Caeilte: "an habitation of [profane] crowds and of [armed] 
throng this hath been, yet is it now a place of saints and of 
righteous." Patrick enquired : " which of the Fianna were in 
yon town ?" " In the one was Raighne Wide-eye son of Finn, 
and his son Cainche the crimson-red in the other; but the clan- 
Morna slew Raighne mac Finn : from whom is magh Raighne or 
* Raighne's plain,* and the other son as well : from whom is sliabh 
Chainche or * Cainche's mountain.* " 

It was but a short time they had been there till they saw 
towards them a gentle maid of pubescent age and with flowing 
yellow hair. Among them she sat down upon the sodded mound, 
and: "who art thou, girl?** asked Patrick. "I am Eddin Fair- 

198 The Colloquy. 

hair, daughter of Baeddn king of Dalaradia." " And wherefore 
art thou come?" pursued the Saint "In order to dedicate to 
thee our kin both quick and dead ; for of my seed [i.e. race] lives 
none now but myself and my own brother." With that she 
thrust her hand between herself and her smock and produced 
fifty ingots of gold with as many of silver (in which were fifty 
ounces of each metal), and to Patrick gave the whole as a screpall 
soiscéla^ i.e. *scripulum evangelii' or 'gospel penny,* then made 
genuflection to him. "What name bears thy brother ?" he asked. 
" Loingsech mac Baedan," she answered. " Ireland's royal rule I 
grant him," Patrick said, "and three of his seed to reign after 
him." " All that ever we shall possess of Ireland we assign to 
thee, holy Cleric." Then she bade them farewell, but they con- 
tinued on the tulacL 

Now along with Patrick was one that to Muiredach mac 
Finnachta king of Connacht was an óglaech attached to his per- 
son : Core mac Dairine, son of the king of corca Dhuibhne or 
*the barony of Corcaguiney* in Kerry, and he said: "Caeilte, 
my soul, there is a question I would fain put to thee : why is a 
certain wave called tonn Chliodhna or * of Cleena,* and another 
one tonn Téide or * of Teide'?" Caeilte said then : — 

" It was an óglaech of trust that Finn had : Ciabhán^ son of 
Eochaid Red-weapon king of Ulidia in the north ; and he was 
so that, as the moon in her twelve provinces exceeds in brilliance 
all stars of heaven, even such was the measure in which for form 
and feature that young man outshone all kings' sons in the world. 
With him the Fianna grew to be discontented however, the cause 
of their discontent being this : among them was no woman, mated 
or unmated, that was not in love with him. Finn renounced 
him therefore ; yet was he loath to have him go, only that for the 
greatness of their jealousy he feared the Fianna of all Ireland. 
Ciabhan went his way accordingly, and to trdgh an chaim or 
'strand of the cairn' (which now is called trdgh na dtréinfher or 
'strand of the strong men') in the province of Ulidia, between 
dun Sobhairce or 'Dunseverick* in Antrim and the sea. There 

AP^^ovó?^ he saw a high-prow ed currach having a narrow stern of copper, 
and in it two young men that wore each one a robe wrapping 

y^ ' him to his shoulders. Ciabhan salutes them and they return 

it: 'whence are ye, youngsters?' he asked them. Says one of 

The Colloquy. 199 

them : ' I am Lodan the king of India's son, and yonder other 
is Eolus son of the king of Greece ; the sea has drifted and the 
wind driven us, nor know we what land or what race of the world 
at large is that in and among which we are/ * He that should 
fancy to sail the sea with you,' said Ciabhan, * would ye give him 
a berth in the currach ?' * Wert thou all alone we would do so,' 
they answered. 'Come now, Ciabhan,' his people said, *is it 
Ireland thou hast a mind to leave?* * Even she it is,' he replied, 
* for in her I find neither shelter nor protection.' Ciabhan stepped 
into the currach and bade farewell to his men, who were gloomy 
and discouraged : for to part from him they felt to be a divorcing 
of soul and body ; then with the two young men in the boat he * 
ratified amity and friendship. 

" Now rose at them white and bellowing waves, insomuch that 
each huge ocean billow of them equalled a mountain ; and that 
the beautiful variegated salmon wont to hug bottom sand and 
shingle touched the currach's very sides ; in presence of which 
phenomena horror affected them, and fear and affright, Ciabhan 
saying : ' by our word and verily, were it but on land we were 
we could whether on battle-field or in single combat make a good 
fight for ourselves.' In this great extremity they continued until 
they saw bear down on them an óglaech having under him a 
dark-grey horse reined with a golden bridle ; for the space of 
nine waves he would be submerged in the sea, but would rise on 
the crest of the tenth, and that without his breast or chest wetted. 
He enquired of them : * what fee would ye give him that should 
rescue you out of this great strait ?' They made answer : * is 
there in our hand the price that is demanded of us ?' * There is 
so,' said the warrior : ' that yourselves be by conditions of service • 
and of fealty bound to him that should so succour you.' They 
consented and struck their hands into the óglaecfís, 

" This done he drew them all three to him out of the currach 
on to the horse, abreast and alongside of which the boat on its 
beam ends swam till they came into port and took the beach in 
tir tarmgaire or *the land of promise.' There they dismounted, 
and went on to loch luchra or * loch of the pigmies/ and to Ú^ ^4^ct^> 
Manannan's cathair or stone fort in which an end was just made ^ t» ^ '^' 
of ordering a banquetting-hall before them. All four of them 
were served then : their horns, their cuachs^ their cups were 


200 The Colloquy. 

raised ; comely dark-eyebrowed gillas went round with smooth- 
polished horns ; sweet-stringed timpans were played by them, 
^i^\ and most melodious dulcet-chor ded harps, until the whole house 

was flooded with music. 

" Then there appeared a set of long-snouted spur-heeled lean- 
hammed carles, foxy and bald, full of ribald quips, that in 
Manannan's mansion used to practise games and tricks, one of 
which was this : to take nine straight osier-rods and (the while 
they stood on one leg and had but one arm free) to dart them 
upward to rafter and to roof-tree of the building, he that did this 
catching them again in the same form. The purpose for which they 
practised this was the putting to shame of such free-born scions of 
noble race as out of far foreign borders from time to time arrived 
there. On the present night therefore the performer, according 
as previously he was wont, executed his feat and, coming to 
Ciabhan then (for in form and gait, as in fame, he excelled all 
such as both of tuatha dé danann and of Milesius' sons were in the 
house of Manannan), put the nine rods into his hand. Ciabhan 
stood up and before Manannan and all chiefs of the land of 
promise did the trick as though that had been his one and only 
study always. He handed the things to Eolus son of the king 
of Greece, who promptly and accurately achieved the matter, 
passed the implements to the king of India's son Lodan, and in 
like wise he too managed it. 

" Now in the land of promise Manannan possessed an arch- 
ollave that had three daughters : CUodhna or * Cleena,' Aeife 
and Edaein Fair-hair, the tuatha dé dananris three treasures of 
spinsterhood and chastity, whom in fact it was not to be feared 
that aught else but pernicious effects of continence would ever 
kill. Yet upon our three warriors these at the one instant cast 
their affections, and appointed to elope with them on the very 
next day. To meet said three the girls sought the landing-place, 
where the king of India's son Lodan and Eolus son of the king 
of Greece [with their damsels] got into one currach, Ciabhan son 
of Eochaid imdherg and Cleena entering another. From this 
point they sail away to trdgh Théite or *Teite's strand* in the 
south of Ireland, a spot on which that name was conferred thus : 
it was Ragamain's daughter Teite bhrec or *the freckled,' that 
with thrice fifty young women resorted thither for *a wave-game* 

The Colloquy. 201 

[i.e. surf-riding], and they all were drowned ; whence trágh 

" As regards Eochaid imdherg^s son Ciabhan, he landed upon 
this shore and went off to hunt in the adjacent country ; but the 
outer swell rolled in on Cleena, whereby she was drowned there, 
and from her it is called tonn ChUodhna or *Cleena's Wave' [in 
man dor or *Glandore harbour']. Now came after her Manannan's 
own special household : Ildathach and his two sons, who also 
were enamoured of the girl, and on the same beach were drowned." 
As Caeilte said : — 

"Cleena Fair-head — a lasting calamity it is — upon the shore her death 
took place ; a cause sufficing for her mother too to die was the event from 
which the old name is derived. When they of the promised land once had 
a general convention made, Eochaid imdherg^s son Ciabhan it was that by 
contrivance carried off his wife. Across the wide ship-carrying sea Ciabhan 
with the curly mane abducted yonder distant gathering's queen, whose name 
was Cleena. Afloat he left her there, and went upon a careless enterprise : 
in quest of game — a seemly employment 'twas — Ciabhan passed in under the 
forest's tangled tresses. He being gone the wave came in — to Ciabhan it 
was no propitious incident ; a disaster at which we felt grief and displeasure 
was the fair-headed Cleena's drowning. Wave of Teite's dun that was a 
haunt of chiefs : such was the name the spot had borne until that billow 
drowned the woman to whom * Cleena' was cognomen. On this shore to the 
north ye have lecht Téite or *Teite's grave' [where she was laid], surrounded 
by a numerous company ; upon the southern side lecht CUodhna^ * Cleena's 
tomb,' lying close up against the sidh of dorn buidhe or * the yellow fist.' 
Dombuie's locks are drenched with the rollers of that mighty deluge ; but 
many a one though there be there, yet Cleena is she whom they drown. 
Across the salt sea fifty ships in number Manannan's own especial household 
come — that was not an uncomely assemblage — and are drowned all in 
Cleena's Wave. Ildathach and his two sons — the three are drowned upon 
their wooing expedition ; alas for them that trusted in the ship which found 
no mercy from the Wave of Cleena. 

" Then Ciabhan casmhongach came to us at the druim or ' ridge' 
of Asal mac ú-Móir\ in which same night died Eochaid imdherg 
king of Ulidia, and Finn invested Ciabhan with that kingdom's 
rule after his father. This then, Core mac Daire, is the narration 
thou soughtest of me," ended Caeilte. 

After this the whole company, Patrick with them, moved on 
to rath Mhedhba or *Meave's rath,* and; "Caeilte," said the Saint, 
"who was the Meave from whom this rath is denominated?" 
"She was Eochaid feidhlecfis daughter Meave." "Was this it 
that served her as a principal residence?" "By no means was 

202 The Colloquy. 

it so ; but hither on the high festival day of samhain she would 
resort to confer with her magicians and her poets in order to 
learn that which during the coming year should turn out either 
well or ill for her ; and the manner of her coming was in chariots 
by nines, as : nine in front of her, nine behind, and on either side 
of her nine." Patrick asked : "for what purpose did she that?" 
" To the end neither miry spattering of the way nor froth from 
the horses should reach her, nor her fresh clean vesture be 
defiled." " This is material for merriment," said the Saint 

"Caeilte," he said again, "what is this field's name?" ^^ Gort 
anfhosdóidh or * the field of staying.'" " What staying was that?" 
" It was Druimdhergox * Red-back,* called dána or * the bold,* son 
of Duibdheichelt or * Black-raiment' of Connacht here, that was 
an óglaech to Finn and had all but deserted from him on account 
of his wage which he thought was too long in coming to him. 
The three battles of the Fianna went about to detain him, but 
with them he rested not ; to stay him therefore came Finn, in 
whose manner of staying an óglaech were special properties, one 
of them being that if on the mutineer he made but three quatrains 
he would incontinently become reconciled. Finn said now : — 

" Thou, Dhruitndherg dána^ pre-eminent in the encounter, if this day thou 
ishalt depart from me with credit to thyself, then is our leave-taking a matter 
of rejoicing to us. But at rath chró thrice fifty ounces once I gave thee in a 
single day ; and at cam Ruidhe the fill of my cuach^ of silver and of yellow 
gold. Rememberest thou at rath Aei when we got the two women, and when 
we ate the nuts, that I was there and likewise thou }^ * 

Again and the whole company drew forward to ros na itechraidhe 
or 'the grove of horses,' which now is named ail fionn or * the white 
stone,* i.e. * Elphin' [where Caeilte explained] : "the reason of its 
being called *the horse grove' was that when the provincial kings 
of Ireland banquetted in Cruachan here it was their horses used 
to be in fenced paddocks." 

" Victory and benediction be thine, Caeilte," said Patrick : 
"that is great experience thou possessest !" 

There they had been but a little while when they saw come to 
them a lone woman robed in mantle of green, a smock of soft 
silk being next her skin, and on her forehead a glittering plate 
of yellow gold. " Whence art thou come, young woman ?" chal- 
lenged Patrick. " Out of uaimh Chruachna or * the cave of Crua- 

The Colloquy. 203 

chan/" she replied. Caeilte asked : "woman, my soul, who art 
thou ?" "I am Scothniamh or * Flower-lustre,' daughter of the 
Daghda's son Bodhb derg." Caeilte proceeded : " and what 
started thee hither?" "To require of thee my marriage-gift, 
because once upon a time thou promisedst me such." "What 
then was it that hindered thee from coming to cam Cairedha 
away south in Leinster's province to seek it, seeing it had been 
promised that there thou shouldst have it ? " " Untruthfully 
thou sayest that," she rejoined, "considering the separation 
one from the other that was forced on us." Here Patrick 
broke in with : " it is a wonder to us how we see you two : 
the girl young and invested with all comeliness ; but thou, 
Caeilte, a withered ancient, bent in the back and dingily grown 
grey." " Which is no wonder at all," said Caeilte, " for no people 
of one generation or of one time are we : she is of the tuatha dé 
danann^ who are unfading and whose duration is perennial ; I 
am of the sons of Milesius, that are perishable and fade away." 
Patrick said : " give the woman her answer, Caeilte." " That 
will I indeed," he answered, and took his way to cam soghradhach 
on the north-west side of Cruachan ; he put his left elbow to the 
cairn, pushed aside some of it, thrust in his hand and brought 
up the lughbordach : a crannoge which for purposes of rent and 
tribute had been given to Finn, and which Finn gave as wages 
to Conan mael mac Moma, who hid it in the cairn. The crannoge 
was on this wise : stuffed with its fill of gold ; and Caeilte gave 
it to the young woman as her bride-gift "It is but a short 
distance off* the road and track of chariots that thou hast gotten 
that, Caeilte," said Patrick ; and the other answered : — 

" People have been that heretofore were here, for all the precious quality 
and vastness of whose gear they are but very few [i.e. none at all] that ever 
have come at it, though not remote it be from public ways. In Slievefuad 
there is a hidden hoard would set all Ireland on the move : three hundred 
ounces of the ruddy gold, together with the duille dherg or 'red leaf [a 
spear's name]. Four vats full of gold there upon the very pinnacle of 
Slievesmole : the least vat of them being too wide for two, yet somewhat 
strait to hold three men. Son of Calpum endowed with sanctity, this much 
I tell thee in the matter : still the treasures do endure, but not so the people." 

When Patrick had made an end of his hours, of Mass, and of 
all the order of the Canon, Caeilte was brought to him and he 

204 The Colloquy. 

interrogated him : " why was the name of glenn na caillighe^ i.e: 
• glen of the caillech or hag/ given to this one below ?" and Caeilte 
said : — 

" It was of a day that Finn and the Fianna were here, and we 
saw a daft thing of a crooked-shinned grimy-looking hag that 
made for us. She challenges us to run a race with her on con- 
dition that the Fianna risk their customary stake on the event, 
and the terms concluded accordingly are that from him who 
shall be left behind his head be taken. We, three of the Fianna, 
ran against her: Ossian and Diarmaid 6 Duibhne and myself; 
and we ran to dth mór^ which at this time is called áth mogha, I 
was first crossing the ford westwards ; I turned therefore to face 
the beldam behind me and lent her a sword-cut that put her 
head from her carcase, since which time to the present 'tis from 
her that glen is named." The clerics passed into the mansion, it 
was blessed by them, and after such benediction a legion of 
angels hovered over it ; there then they tarried for a fortnight 
beyond the month. 

Upon a certain day during their sojourn in this place they 
were aware of a young man whose general form and pleasurable 
aspect were excellent " Who art thou, stripling ?" Patrick asked. 
" I am Aedh son of Eochaid lethderg^' he replied, " son of the 
king of Leinster in the south. Now it was a goaling-match that 
was got up by us at the sidh of Liamhain Soft-smock ; and at the 
hurling were present my father and my mother, Bebhinn daughter 
of Cuan mac Fintan king of Connacht, that have no oflFspring but 
myself alone. Against the youths my opponents I [i.e. my side] 
took seven goals ; but at the last one that I took, here come 
up to me two women clad in green mantles: two daughters of 
Bodhb derg mac an Daghda^ and their names Slad and Mumain, 
Either of them took me by a hand, and they led me off to a 
garish bmgh ; whereby for now three years my people mourn 
after me, the sidh-lo^ caring for me ever since, and until last 
night I got a chance opening to escape from the brugh^ when to 
the number of fifty lads we emerged out of the sidh and forth 
upon the green. Then it was that I considered the magnitude 
of that strait in which they of the sidh had had me, and away 
from the brugh I came running to seek thee, holy Patrick.'* 
" That," said the Saint, " shall be to thee for a safeguard, so that 

The Colloquy. 205 

neither their power nor their dominion shall any more prevail 
against thee." 

Then Caeilte said to Patrick: "it were time for us to travel 
south into Leinster's province in order to restore his son to the 
king, to sow the faith there, and to acquire benefactions to the 
Church." Patrick called : " where is Cascorach mac Cainchinne ?" 
" Here am I, holy cleric," answered the minstrel. " Be the king 
of Leinster's son in the one bed and in the one condition with 
thee until we reach his province." 

Towards Leinster they journeyed now and so gained fert 
Raeirinne, or *the grave of Raeire' daughter of Ronan ruadh 
or * rufus,' in the great plain of Leinster ; and here Caeilte told 
them how that grave came by the name : " it was an only sister 
that I had," he said: "whose name was Raeire, and who was 
wife to GoU mac Moma ; upon this tulach she died in childbirth 
of a son, the infant also perishing with her ; and now would I 
dearly like to crave a boon of thee, holy Patrick." " Caeilte, my 
soul, what boon is that ?" " To have my own sister brought out 
of torment, since now I have attained to thy fellowship and to . 
thy love." Patrick answered him : " for thy sake be thy father 
also, thy mother, and thy lord Finn mac Cumall taken out of 
pain, if it be good in the sight of God." For this thing Caeilte 
returned thanks to God and to the Táilchenn^ and it was the 
richest prize that he had ever had. After which they proceeded 
to cam na gcuradh or * the cairn of heroes,' at this time called 
the garbthanach or * cruel burial,' in Hy-Murray. 

" Tell us, Cailte," said Patrick, " for what reason the name of 
an gharbthanach or *the cruel burial' was conferred on this 
spot?" and Caeilte answered that: — 

"It was a monarch that swayed Ireland: Tuathal techtmhar 
son of Fiacha findolach son of Feradach finnfechtnach (which 
Tuathal it was that from the provincial kings of Ireland took 
their heads ; so that from this techtadh or * appropriation ' that he 
made of Ireland, and exercised upon her provincials for Tara 
to serve himself, men called him Tuathal techtmhar or *the 
acquisitive *), and he had two daughters : Fithir and Dairine 
were their names. The king of Leinster, Eochaid son of Eocliaid 
ainchenn came to sue for one of them, and Tuathal questioned 
Wm: 'whether of the two girls wouldest thou?' *I would fain 

2o6 The Colloquy. 

have Fithir/ said the king of Leinster. But the king of Ireland 
replied that the younger he would not give away before the 
elder, therefore to the king of Leinster Tuathal's daughter 
Dairine was given ; for whose bride-gift he assigned of every 
kind of stock an hundred. In this place for a year she was by 
him, but he loved her not ; one night therefore in his bed he 
framed within himself a snare and artifice, which was this: to 
carry the king of Ireland's daughter into mid-forest, to fell it 
round about her and, nine foster-sisters that she had being with 
her, to construct for her a secret and secluded house ; then to 
say that she was dead. His horses were harnessed for the king, 
his chariot was made ready, and he reached Tara to confer with 
the king of Ireland. The latter asked him for news, and he said : 
' great and evil tidings I have — ^that the daughter thou gavest me 
died last night with us.* * Wherefore then art thou come to seek 
me?' asked Tuathal ; *for a tale more grievous than that is to 
me I have not heard.' The king of Leinster said : ' I am come 
to solicit of thee the other daughter, for I would not be severed 
from thine alliance.' * By my word,' exclaimed Tuathal, * the 
giving of my daughter to thee augurs me neither peace nor 
pleasure.' The king of Leinster answered : * not I it was that had 
power of her life.' So the other daughter was given to him," 
Caeilte went on, " and he brought her to this town ; to which 
when the girl was come, there her sister was before her": — 

Caeilte ceciniL 
" Her mouth Fithir laid to the ground (no perfect alliance this for Leinster's 
king) ; and so her heart was broken into three, for her strength was vanished 
into nothing. 

"And when the other daughter saw that she too died, for 

sorrow of her sister: — 

" Fithir and Dairine, jovial Tuathal's daughters twain : Fithir expired for 
very shame, Dairine died of grief for her," 

" By the king of Leinster their laying out was performed here, 
and the king said : * it is a cruel burial,' whence the name garb- 
thanach cleaves to this place; and in this sodded grave, holy 
Patrick, they were laid together," ended Caeilte, 

"Success and benediction be thine, Caeilte, my soul," cried 
Patrick : " that is a good story I " 

Hard by them now they saw a brugh with a fenced field of 

TJie Colloquy. 207 

grass ; in it a youth affable and of distinguished presence, and 
in the pasture-field before him thrice fifty horses. Patrick ap- 
proached the stripling, who rose before him, and the Saint said : 
" a king's supporters be about thee and appertain to * the man of 
thy place ' [i.e. thy representative] ; what name hast thou ?" 
" I am Muiredach, son of Tuathal mac Finnachta king of this 
country." "What is that mansion which we perceive?" asked 
Patrick. "That of a hospitaller belonging to the king of 
Leinster's people: Coscrach na gcét or *Coscrach of the hun- 
dreds' is his name." "Why is that name imposed on him?" 
" His stock and herds it is not possible to number until they be 
reckoned by hundreds." Patrick asked : " shall we there find 
this night's entertainment?" "Thou shalt," the young man 
answered, "for in the town I have charge and authority, the 
óglaech of the place not being there himself." So they came to 
the town, and he lodged Patrick with his familia in a most 
spacious royal house that was in it, where with all reverence 
they were ministered to. 

As regards Caeilte he took his way to clock na narm or * the 
stone of arms ' to the southward of the dwelling : the spot where 
yearly the Fianna practised to grind their weapons upon a certain 
great mass of stone ; and he standing there over the stone wept 
copious very lamentable tears as he remembered the great and 
brave company which many a time had stood over it along 
with him. But he had not been there long before he discerned a 
single óglaech that came towards him : around him was a crimson 
mantle with a brooch of gold in it ; he wore the semblance of 
a good man and had a princely port, smooth curling hair too ; 
and before Caeilte well knew it the young man sat on one end of 
the stone by him. " Warrior, what is thy cognomen ?" asked 
Caeilte. *^ Coscrach na gcét is my name," he answered, "and art 
thou he for whom I take thee ?" "And who may that be ?" "As I 
suppose," said Coscrach, " thou art Caeilte mac Ronan." Caeilte 
answered : " true it is that I am so." " I rejoice that thou hast 
chanced towards me," Coscrach said. "And why is that?" Cos- 
crach says: "I have nine-and-twenty j^ijr<?^A^ or 'plough-lands'; 
and when it is fitting time for reaping of the crop here comes a 
most impetuous wild deer that spoils and ruins it all to such 
pitch that we have no profit of the same. I adjure thee therefore. 

2o8 The Colloquy. 

Caeilte my soul, lend me some succour and relief in the matter 
of averting that stag from me." "When I was in vigour and 
in fettle I would have fended off that same from thee," said 

Here they marked the approach of a swift-marching phalanx, 
hostile in array of battle, with a grove of tall spears reared at 
their shoulders, a bulwark of well-turned red shields protecting 
them. " Coscrach, my soul, who are they ? " asked Caeilte. 
" Tuathal mac Finnachta, king of this country," said Coscrach ; 
and with that the óglaech sat down upon the green where they 

Then Caeilte said to Coscrach of the hundreds : " couldst thou 
but find messengers to cluain chaoin na fairche or * Clonkeen ' in 
the province of Munster, to doire na finghaiU or * the oak-grove 
of fratricide,' my seven hunting nets are there." The messengers 
went to fetch the nets therefore, and brought them back. Caeilte 
ordered this hunt, disposing the bulk of the men and greater 
part of the hounds in the direction from which he supposed 
that the stag would come. Upon the precipices and waterfalls 
and invers of the country he stretched his nets, and the great 
deer (as his habit yearly was) came at them. Caeilte, seeing 
him come to áth an daimh or * the stag's ford ' on the Slaney, 
grasped the coscrach or * the slayer,' his spear namely, and as the 
deer was entangled in the toils smote him with a mighty throw 
so that of the spear's shaft [besides the head] a portion equal to 
the length of a warrior's hand shewed through him. Coscrach 
said then: "in good sooth I think the deer's blood is drawn"; 
whence from that time to this dth deargtha an daimh or * ford of 
bleeding the stag ' is its name. His chine they carried to druim 
leathan or * broad ridge,' which at this time is called druim ndearg 
na damhraidhe or ' red ridge of the deer.' " Caeilte, thine advent 
to usward is a lucky one," said Coscrach of the hundreds. They 
gained the mansion in which Patrick was, and Coscrach laid his 
head in the Saint's bosom, as did his seven sons also and his 
seven daughters, and all made genuflexion to him ; for on this 
night two benefits were befallen Coscrach : Patrick's ministration 
to his soul's weal, and Caeilte's salvage of his crops by slaughter 
of the stag that wasted him. That night then they passed with 
quaffing and all enjoyment, and on the morrow the whole 

The Colloquy. 209 

company together with saint Patrick issued forth on the fort's 

Then Coscrach questioned Caeilte: "why was the name of 
clock na narm given to this solid block of stone?" "That," 
Caeilte answered, " is the stone on which yearly at samliainAXá^ 
the Fianna used to grind their arms ; and on that stone was 
exposed the best official test of peace [prevailing in the land] 
that during the reign of Conn, of Art, of Cormac and of Cairbre 
Lifechair was in either Ireland or Scotland : an arm-ring of red 
gold which, there being a hole in the pillar-stone, was passed 
through the same, and so excellent was the rule of those kings 
that none dared take it away ; while the magicians* divination 
was so acute that therefore, as well as for the said kings* discipline, 
none ventured so much as to move it with a touch. Howbeit 
those former kings successively passed away until Cairbre Life- 
chair arose, who fell in the battle of Gowra ; then we (so many 
of the remnant of the Fianna as we were) retreated to this ford, 
and with putting of that which had been its upper part down- 
wards I inverted the stone so that it was as ye behold it.*' The 
company said: "could we but see the hole and the token we 
would believe the thing." " Grant me a little spell — for the Gael 
is a perfervid being — till I lift the nether and make an upper 
end of it,** said Caeilte; whence the adage: *a perfervid being 
is the Gael.* But the whole of them as many as they were there 
went at it presently and all together, yet even so availed no jot 
with it. Then came Caeilte and with his two fore-arms embraced 
it, hove it out of the earth, and it proved to be thus: with its 
bangle of gold through a hole at the lower end, so that all in 
general saw it. Caeilte addressed himself to the bracelet and 
divided it in two : one-half he gave to Patrick, the other to them 
of the town in which they were, and its name therefore from that 
time to this is cluain fhalach^ i.e. * lawn of the fail or armlet * ; 
that of the stone being lia na narm or *the monolith of arms.'** 
Whereupon Cailte uttered a quatrain : — 

" Many a spear of the kind with which grief is wrought, many an accom- 
plished hero's sword, was sharpened by us here upon the pillar-stone, O 
Coscrach, on each recurring samhain-á2Ly,^^ 

" Success and benediction attend thee, Caeilte ; that is good 
antiquarian lore thou hast imparted to us ! *' said Patrick. 


2 1 o The Colloquy. 

For Coscrach of the hundreds his horses were harnessed now, 
his chariot was made ready, and away he came eastwards to 
druim leathan or *the broad ridge' of Laeghaire mac Ugaine, 
in order to confer with Eochaid leithdeargVm% of Leinster, and to 
tell them there all about Caeilte. "Coscrach," said the king, 
" in that thou never advisedst me that Caeilte was with thee my 
displeasure at thee is great." 

To seek Patrick and Caeilte then the king of Leinster rose out 
three battles strong to Rathmore of Moyfea, which at the present 
is termed Rathmore in the great plain of Leinster. Patrick with 
his familia sit in front of the rath (whence suide Pátraic or 

* Patrick's seat ' is the spot's name), and the king of Leinster 
with all his numbers sits likewise. " Though I be come to thee, 
saint Patrick my soul," says the king, " yet were we at the time 
already oppressed with a sore emergency : inasmuch as Ailill mac 
Scanlann mac Dunghal, king of the Decies, had challenged us to 
battle at coill an chcsnamha or *the wood of contention,' now 
called magh Raighne or * Raighne's plain'; but him I have 
suffered to burn the country, and am come to do thy will and to 
have speech of thee." Patrick answered ; " with thee in guerdon 
of it be the burial-place of Ireland's kings, if only thou make the 
circuit of this flagstone on which I sit " ; and Caeilte uttered : — 

"At Laeghaire's broad ridge a flagstone lies ; the which if [on the eve of 
battle] Leinster's king of the wide territories but go right-handed round, the 
defeat shall be in front of that good man." 

Now said Patrick: " I command that where he [Ailill] stands 
in magh Raighne there the earth swallow him up " ; which also 
was effected on the spot : for by efficacy of Saint Patrick's word 
the earth engulfed him, and it was decreed that never should 
his successor prevail against a king of Leinster. 

The king said: "greatly I welcome thine advent, Caeilte, 
though it were trusting to thy face alone thou camest [i.e. on 
thine own merits apart from Patrick's support] ! and good right 
too why thou shouldst come, for thy mother was Teigue's 
daughter Eithne. But tell me, Fian-chief, why the well which 
we have here before the rath was called tipra na scaidheirce or 

* the mirror well.'" " It was Scáithdearc or * mirror,' daughter of 
who as she tried t he bramble -bush of loch Lurgan was 

drowned ia!tIiar"Weit7Tofout of thaTsame bush tJie^swelling 

The Colloquy. 2 1 1 

cold-lymphed loch Lurgan rose and spread from an cJtorrabhall 
or *the odd apple-tree* that is against Slievesmole or 'the 
mountain of Stnól mac EidhUcair' (now called Slievebloom) 
even to this spot, and was in process of extending over the 
whole province: Then it was that Finn brought into play the 
most powerful and pre-excellent defence that ever any contrived, 
whether before or since: the súghmaire or 'sucker' out of the 
land of India, the wizards out of the land of Almayne, the 
Amazons out of Saxon- and out of Frank-land, and absorbed 
that swelling cold-lymphed loch." 

" Those original Fianna of Finn's were a noble set," said the 
king of Leinster. '^ No worse than each man of us their survivors 
was each man of them, except in so far as they attained not to 
be in the one epoch and time with you ; and a thing that served 
shepherds and herdsmen for a pastime was to practise here the 
gathering up of their weapons and of their raiment that once 
were the three battalions of the Fianna: Finn mac Cumall's, and 
those of Ferdoman mac Innoman from láthrach caein or ' plea- 
sant site,' of the Galianic province." Eochaid king of Leinster 
said : " by the reality of thy valour and of thy skill at arms, 
Caeilte, I conjure thee to recite for us in their companies and in 
their cohorts all such as loch Lurgan's bramble-bush drowned of 
them.'* Then Caeilte said: — 

" Faelan of Finnloch out of the province of Connacht in the 
west ; Angfus and Dobarchú or ' waterdog,' i.e. ' otter,* out of 
Leinster's province ; Druimdherg or * red-back * of Derry, and 
Dubh dhd dét or ' black one of two teeth,' of Kinelconall in the 
north ; lubhar and Aicher, Aedh and Art, the four kings of coill 
an cfwsnamha at this present called Ossory ; Cairell, Caicher, 
Cormac and Caemh, the king of Dalaradia's four sons out of the 
north ; Maine and Art and Aralt or * Harold,' the king of Scot- 
land's three sons from beyond ; Eobhran and Aedh and Eoghan, 
the king of Britain's three sons ; Uai king of Isla and his two 
sons : Cerna and Cemabroc, the two kings of innse gall or ' the 
isles of strangers,' i.e. the Hebrides, in the north ; Diure and 
Barrae and Idae, the king of northern Lochlann's three sons ; 
Luath and Innell and Eoghan, the three kings of the Mairtine 
of Munster in the west ; Glas and Delga and Duibhne, three sons 
of the king of the tuatha of Bregia and of Meath ; lUann and 

P 2 

212 The Colloquy. 

Aedh and Eoghanan, three sons of the king of Kinelowen in the 
north ; Samaisc and Arthur and Inbeir, three sons of the king of 
the gallghaedhel or * Norse-Gael ' from beyond ; which make up 
the names of the chiefs and lords and men of territory which the 
bramble-bush drowned of Finn mac Cumall's original Fianna. 
And though my vigour and my spear-throwing be done for, 
yet have I known this plain that it was a swelling and cold- 
lymphed loch the water of which was blue and clear." He 
uttered now: — 

" Water of a pellucid rill ..." 

Then he brought to mind and took heed that this day he 
lacked his Fianna, his band, his own very people, and was reft of 
his strength and spear-skill ; whereat he fell to grieve mightily. 
" Good now, Caeilte, my soul," said Patrick, " it is not just for 
thee to grieve ; for thy desire [gratified] and thy state now are 
better than all the rest, inasmuch as I have found thee, and that 
to thee above any other one of the Fianna God's good things, as 
faith, and piety, and fervent prayer, are come." 

The end of day, and night's first beginning, came upon them 
now and Coscrach said to the king of Leinster: " I have for thee 
a large and dainty banquet, eight score vats of ale fit to drink 
and of a fine flavour." "Never," returned the king, "has there 
been oflTered me a feast with which I was pleased better than with 
this." As many as they were therefore, both of laymen and of 
clerics that accompanied Saint Patrick, they started for said feast 
and entered into the mansion. 

Then stood up a cup-bearer to pour out, a door-keeper to do 
the oflfice of the door, a dispenser to make out portions ; from 
their own proper vats of red yew the spigots were taken by them, 
servitors arose with goblets of white gold, and to all in general 
meat and liquor were served out. 

But the king of Leinster said to Patrick: "saw we not a 
minstrel with you?" "Surely thou sawest one," answered Pat- 
rick: "Cascorach, that with Caeilte acquires knowledge and 
instruction. Where," he continued, "is the acolyte?" "Here 
am I, holy cleric." "Get thee out," said the Saint [privily], 
" and let Aedh son of Eochaid king of Leinster carrying Casco- 
rach's timpan for him come back with thee, but with a dark 

The Colloquy. 213 

and ample hood upon him." In which wise he was brought to 
Patrick and to the king of Leinster. 

Cascorach played his timpan, inspiring it with a certain fairy 
cadence ; whence it is reported that to the marvellous magic 
music which he made for them wounded men would have slept. 
Which done, jewels and things of price were given to the 
minstrel, who continually put them into his gillds hand [as 
though to keep for him] ; but the latter as regularly distributed 
them to all. These questioned : " which of the three excels in 
generosity — whether they that in the first place bestow the 
jewels, or the minstrel, or the giilaV " The gilla's liberality is 
the best," said the king, " for he it is that to the general gives 
away all that he gets." Cascorach said: "everything that I 
shall get let him give it out ; for not to gather pelf am I with 
the Táilchenn and Caeilte, but to gain knowledge and instruc- 
tion with Caeilte, and from Patrick to win Heaven for my soul." 
The king asked : " minstrel, my soul, where gottest thou the 
gilla that in generosity exceeds thyself?" "Away north in the 
province of Ulster," Cascorach answered. "What name has 
he ?" " He is just a gilla that we got hold of, concerning whom 
it is unknown whether he have a name, or even a father and 

The king of Leinster stood up with a great horn that was in 
his hand, and said: "good, my soul, holy Patrick, it was once 
when we were at soft-smocked Liamhain's sidhy and to us came 
a pair of delicate yellow-haired damsels that out of the midst of 
the meeting carried off my only son ; neither know we whether 
it was up into the firmament or into earth downwards they took 
him. I after my only son am as a solitary tree opposed to 
wind ; and from that time to this want him, not knowing in the 
world how he fares. From thee therefore, holy Patrick, I would 
learn whether he be alive or whether he be dead." The Saint 
said : " if it be God's good pleasure knowledge of that shall be 
had for thee." There they were until rising time on the morrow, 
and until the sun went up out of his fiery zone. 

Then said the king to Patrick : " for hunting and for the 
chase I desire to go eastwards to tulach an tnháil or * the hero's 
hill,' in the plain of Leinster ; and it were right thou camest with 
me, for it will divert thee more than will the being at home : the 

2 1 4 The Colloquy. 

whole throng and multitude of Leinster will congregate to us 
there." Hereupon two great companies went with them: one 
set, whose occupation was devotion and the faith, with Patrick ; 
another, that were busied with the Fianna of Ireland's many 
deeds of valour and of arms, with Caeilte mac Ronan and the 
king. Thus they went their way to iulach an rnhdil in Leinster's 

There the king questioned Caeilte : " wherefore was that name 
given to this hill, and cnocAeife to that one below?" and Caeilte 
began : — 

" It was a monarch that swayed Scotland : Aiel son of Donald 
of the fleet, and he had a son : Mál mac Aiel, who again had a 
spouse: Aeife, daughter of Scoa's son Albh king of Lochlann to 
the northward. Now of Finn's people was a warrior, mac Lugh- 
ach, and in every laudatory composition whatsoever that in both 
Ireland and Scotland was made for Finn, mac Lughach's praises 
were recited. What then — why when the king of Lochlann's 
daughter heard the great testimonies that authors and ollaves 
bore to mac Lughach she loved him for his reputation. 

"Mai mac Aiel, three hundred óglaechs strong, went to hunt 
sliabh mór monaidh in Scotland ; who being gone the lady in her 
bower framed a design : to take with her over to Ireland nine own 
foster-sisters that she had ; and such nine women accordingly 
came over the * sea's mane ' [i.e. wave-crests] to Ben-Edar, where 
the nine women, the queen tenth, landed. 

"That was the day on which the hunting of Ben-Edar was 
made, its extent being from the little field of Meille mac Lurga 
LrOm's house against Slievebloom up to Ben-Edar ; and where 
Finn was was in his hunting-seat, with his gentle loving foster- 
ling by him : Duibhrinn, son of the king of Kinelconall out of 

the north : — 

Caeilte cecinit 
" Brown-haired Duibhrinn that could fight the fight many a time I summon 
to the flowing ale; my pleasant right-spoken little fosterling and my very 
heart the sportive Duibhrinn was. 

" Far and wide on every side the youngster looked about him 
and there before him saw a vessel that took the haven's beach, 
there being in her after part a modest-eyed queenly lady with 
nine women in her company. With great store of all rich things 

The Colloquy. 2 1 5 

such as they had brought with them they joined Finn, by whose 
side Aeife sat down. The Fian- chief looks upon her and requests 
an account of herself, whereupon from first to last she tells him 
all her doings : that she, being fallen in love with mac Lughach, 
was come over the sea to seek him. Then Finn welcomed her, 
for close was his kinship with him to whom she came: his 
daughter's son. 

"The hunting had an end and the gentles of the Fianna by 
bands and companies repaired to Finn, each party as they came 
up enquiring who might the queen be. Finn told them her 
name and style, and the errand on which she came to Ireland. 
* We greet her that has taken such a journey,* they made 
answer: *for in Ireland or in Scotland, save only Finn the chief, 
is no better man than he to whom she is come.' 

" It was to mac Lughach that the hunting of Slievebloom's 
western side was fallen that day and [that being the farthest 
point] he last with all his number reached us. Finn's tent was 
spread over him, and into it were brought the lady and the 
chieftains of the Fianna ; mac Lughach entering sat on one side 
of Finn, she took the other. As all the rest had done, so too 
mac Lughach questioned concerning her, and Finn gave him her 
whole history from the beginning to the end, saying: *to thee 
she is come, and out of my hand into thine here she is, together 
with all her battle and her strife ; yet upon thee will not that lie 
more heavily than on the Fianna at large [who will have to back 
thee].' That same night Finn (and with him the Fianna bring- 
ing the lady with her woman-folk) came to Almain, where mac 
Lughach and she were bedded, and for a year and a month she 
was with him unclaimed. But then," continued Caeilte, " we the 
three battles of the Fianna being upon this hill saw before long 
three bold divisions equal in size that marched on us. We 
demanded who was there, and they answered : * it is Mai son of 
Aiel son of Donald of the fleet, to avenge his wife upon the 
Fianna.' *A good time it is at which he comes,' said Fionn, 
•just when we are all in one spot' 

" Then the battalia advanced on each other: Aiel son of Donald 
of the fleet grasped his arms, came, and ten times charged 
through and through the Fianna, of whom at each rush fell a 
hundred warriors. In the battle's centre he and mac Lugach 

2 1 6 The Colloquy. 

fought : past the smooth hard spears' necks either towards other 
took four paces, and with the broad-grooved swords laid on : 
each one upon his fellow's head. Be it a long time or a short 
that they were at it, at all events Mai fell by mac Lughach, and 
was buried in this tulach^^ Caeilte said, and uttered : — 

" Tulach an mháil this is : a tulach where much carnage was ; there 
warriors lay in their blood, and strength in martial strokes there was. 
Seven score of ships in number Mai came o'er the glittering and foaming 
brine ; of which save only a single vessel's crew no soul escaped alive. In 
virtue of shield and battle-sword, of many-coloured raiment, gallantly Mai 
crossed the sea : whose hand in action was a hero's. Many a cliif and many 
a famous inver, many a river and many a bum [he faced], many a hazard 
and tribulation [he endured, and emitted] many an uch ! or ever he won to 
the tulach ! 

"Hence that name belongs to the tulach, and we have cath 
tulcha an mfiáil or *the battle of tulach an mháiV\ but tulach 
Aeife is the name of yon hill farther down, for upon that one the 
lady stood so long as the battle was a-fighting. From which 
time forth she belonged to mac Lughach, and to him became a 
mother of children." 

Patrick and the whole company together rose now from the 
hill on which they were, and progressed as far as tulach na bfiadh 
or *the hill of deer* to the westward thereof. Here Caeilte 
spied two raths that were on that tulach, as rath Speláin and 
rath an mhdil *or the hero's rath,' and the king of Leinster 
[when they were pointed out to him] said : " Caeilte, my soul, the 
one rath is a large one ; and who were in them both?" "Two 
hospitallers to the king of Ireland, to Cormac," answered Caeilte: 
" and in them it was that, from the first of the month troghan 
now called lughnasadh or 'Lammas' to the day of samhain or 
* All- Hallows,' yearly those two hospitallers : Began the stock- 
master and Speldn son of Dubhdn, had the pledges of all Ireland, 
feeding them." 

Yet another tulach they saw near to them, and: "Caeilte," 
said the king of Leinster, " why has this been called caeiiesna or 
*the short rib?'" "I remember that," Caeilte answered: "it was 
Milid out of the east, son of Trechosach king of the continent, 
that with thrice fifty óglaechs came to win Ireland's sovereignty. 
He fell to require pledges of Finn mac Cumall ; but the latter 
said that to any such number (though picked from the whole 

Tlie Colloquy. 217 

world's humans) he would not yield so much as a gilla^ or other 
captive whatsoever. Milid defied Finn to single combat ; but I 
rose," said Caeilte, " for that day there was in me the capacity to 
handle a good man, and by me he perished sheerly wearied out 
with fight. Now so hugely pleased at his fall the men of Ireland 
were that a portion of him was bestowed on every tulach of 
note, two of his short ribs being left on this one, and hence that 

Again they moved on and as far as Rathmore of Moyfea, 
even to the king of Leinster's mansion. That night he had a 
banquetting-house set in order, and prescribed to furnish Casco- 
rach with his timpan to the end he should make minstrelsy for 
the company. Patrick said : " let the gilla whom we found, his 
own gilla^ deliver him his timpan." The gilla brought the instru- 
ment, handed it to the minstrel, and Cascorach received it into 
his hand. 

At this instant it was that the roof-tree took fire : all in unison 
were staring at the flames, and the musician made a motion to 
lay the timpan out of his hand and into its case ; but the gilla 
said to him : " never let that hinder thee of thine art nor of thy 
minstrelsy ; leave it but to me to save the house." A lump of a 
stone that he had, rolled in a corner of his shirt, he took then and 
hurled so excellently well that both roof-tree and fire it carried 
away and out over the town's lofty palisade ; whence árd féice 
or * roof-tree eminence ' has from that day to this been the name 
of the place. " Success attend thy throwing, my son," cried 
Patrick: " good luck go with thy distributing and with thy cutting 
up ! " All they of the house said : " never have we seen minstrel 
have gUla better than is that one for strength, for address, for 
generosity." Here they abode for that night and, all being on 
the morrow risen with Saint Patrick, went upon cnoc na righ or 
'the hill of kings,' which now is called Maiste or *the hill of 
Mullaghmast,' where Patrick sat down. As for the king of 
Leinster, by him a hunting-match was set on foot in the spot 
now called drd na macraidhe or * the hill of lads ' (a present 
alternative name also being drd scol or *hill of schools'), 
extending to lias na móirríghna or * liss of the great queen,' as 
also Maiste is named. Of Patrick's familia were none in the 
king's company at this hunt excepting the musician and his 

2 1 8 The Colloquy. 

gilla ; but at the hands of these two, master and man, not a soul 
of the king's people attained to draw first blood whether of wild 
swine or of stag ; nor since the Fianna died out had there been 
held a chase more productive than this. 

Then Patrick stood up and to them all delivered admonition 
and a sermon ; the province of Leinster dedicated to the Saint a 
third part of their children, and of their wealth a trian or * third,' 
whereby cnoc na dechmaidhe or * the tithe hill ' is its name ever 
since ; magh an trin or * plain of the third part * is that of the 
wold ; and árd an phróicepta^ i.e. 'eminence of th^ próicept* or 
'preaching,' that of the rising ground on which Patrick held 

After the sermon a g^eat thirst took Patrick. Close to them 
they saw a town (the name of which was tech cruinn or * round- 
house ') and in the same a great feast laid ; a drink for Patrick 
was besought of the host {Maeldn son of Dubhdn his name was) 
but in the matter of a draught from that banquet he denies the 
Saint. The righteous one being angered at the niggard said: 
" to thee, Maelan, be not bom either son or daughter ; have thou 
not relatives, nor yet a single kinsman." Neither had he. 

After that they all came on to drd ChuiUinn in the plain of 
Leinster, where they gazed abroad at the precipice and at the 
river [that were there], and at drd Chuanaidhe. The king in- 
terrogated Caeilte with : " why was drd Chuanaidhe conferred on 
the drd or * eminence ' yonder away from us, and on this spot 
the name of drd CuilUnnV* Lamentably and in grief Caeilte 
, wept then, and said : " it was a special fosterling that I had here, 
Cuanaidhe, son of Lenn mac Faebar king of Leinster, namely ; 
whose mother, Dubthach's daughter Cuillinn, was not a good 
woman. Now once we were on the print-track of clan-Morna 
and, to the number of thrice fifty shield-wearers from among the 
armour-clad young men of Ireland's Fianna, came hither: a 
shoulder without a white buckler, a head that lacked a helmet, 
was not amongst us. On stout Cael ua Nemhnainn the hundred- 
wounder I enjoined to follow the trail, and that warrior accord- 
ingly carried it as far as the town in which dwelt a certain she- 
miller [Cuillinn above]. In the woman's company he saw a dark- 
browed young man that parleyed with her: a shirt of regal silk 
the same had next his skin, and about him a fringed mantle of 

The Colloquy, 2 1 9 

fair crimson with a brooch of gold, he the while sitting by her on 
the platform's edge [v^here she lay]. "My good son," said 
Cuillinn, "be going now; for this is no place in which thou 
mayest confer with me, and clan-Morna (those hereditary ene- 
mies to Finn) have by the ford already crossed the river." 
Cael returned to us and the tale was told us; then with the 
ready rising of one man we up and away till we overtook the 
other, whom (that is to say Cuanaidhe, son of Lenn mac Faebar 
and my own fosterling) we never recognised. He turned his ' 
face on us, charged through us thrice, and the third time de- 
livered me a spear-cast that transfixed both my knees ; whence 
also at every hill or crag up which I run it is the after-effect of 
that spear which comes against me. To him in turn I for my 
part administered a throw which, piercing his tunic's sinus, 
grimly cracked his spine in two in him, and at yonder eminence 
he died ; hence * Cuanaidhe's eminence ' it is called.** 

They all, Patrick along with thern^ went on to Rathmore of 
Moyfea, entered into that good town, and there for a space 
drank and took their pleasure. "Be thy timpan brought to 
thee, Cascorach," said the king. Then Bebhionn daughter of 
Coban king of Connacht declared : " that dark capacious hood 
which envelops the head of the minstrel's £i//a, I wonder that 
neither by day nor by night it is ever stripped from him." 
" How do we know but 'tis a head in some way disfigured that 
he wears," said the king: "and yet, so far as every limb that we 
see of him goes, no defect of conformation affects it at all." 

To Caeilte then king Eochaid said : " I possess [the stuff of] a 
spear-shaft, and on this I would fain have thee to expend four 
touches of thy skill ; for I have heard that whether in Ireland or 
in Scotland there is not a shaft -trimmer better than thyself" 
Caeilte answered : "I tell thee that the spear-shaft which of old all 
Ireland could not finish, it was I that could make a hand of it." 
The shaft was put into Caeilte's hand and [in four operations] he 
dressed it effectually, so that in all Ireland and Scotland was no 
shaft better wrought "Now," said the king, "fit the spear." 
Caeilte set his foot [i.e, stood close up] to a solid post of the 
house, and into it drove the spear's head ; then he grasped the 
shaft and [falling back to a certain distance] dexterously hurled 
it at the head with such aim and force that into its bed and 

2 20 The Colloquy. 

socket it went home just as though already for a long time it 
had been adjusted there. " Here, king of Leinster, my soul, is thy 
spear for thee," said Caeilte. Eochaid takes the weapon, and 
good it was : " ray two horses and my chariot to thee, Caeilte," 
he cries, "in guerdon of the finished spear ! " and those were the 
pair of horses and the chariot which at the last drew Caeilte in 
Ireland, the names of the two being Err and Inneall. 

Howbeit the spear was in the king's hand and, as he con- 
sidered it intently, he thought it great grief that he had no son 
and heir that should succeed to it. To Patrick enquiring why 
he fretted so he replied; "good cause I have for it." "And 
what is that ?" " It is by reason of the son concerning whom a 
while ago I spoke to thee: that I am without an own peculiar 
and befitting successor for that spear which Caeilte has fitted for 
me." " Good," quoth Patrick : " be it put into the hand of the 
minstrel's lad till we know whether his grip will be filled with its 
shaft and socket " : and the spear was handed to the youth, who 
right gallantly wielded and pioised it. " Doflf now once for all 
thy dark capacious hood, and well mayest thou wear thy father's 
spear !" said Patrick. The lad removed his hood, and none there 
but recognised him. "By our word," exclaimed the assembly, 
"it is a good cleric's gift!" and the king said: "holy Patrick, 
seeing that till this day thou hast nourished him, and nurtured, 
let not the tuatha dé dananris power any more prevail against 
the lad." Patrick answered: "that death which the king of 
Heaven and of Earth hath ordained is the one that he will 
have." Now rose the host and throng belonging to the dun and 
with the young man struck terms of service and of fealty, so that 
by the morrow's rising-time he had ten hundred of a force. 

Again the whole of them (Patrick as well) advanced, Caeilte 
travelling in the chariot which the king had given him ; and 
they reached árd fostadha na féinne out across Slaney, where 
Caeilte alighted out of the chariot and a hunting-match was dis- 
posed by them. " Caeilte," said the king, " it is well : why now 
was árd fostadha naféinne or 'eminence of the Fianna's arresta- 
tion' given to this rise?" "I remember it," answered Caeilte, 
" though its origin be no new thing [i.e. is very ancient] : — 

" It was one day that Finn mac Cumall and the three battles 
of the Fianna came to this ford, where as we sat we saw 

The Colloquy. 221 

upon the round rock yonder that commands the ford a lone 
young woman girt with a silken tunic and wrapped in a green 
mantle held with a brooch of gold ; on her head was a golden 
diadem, emblem of a queen, and she said: * Fianna of Ireland, 
let one warrior of you come and speak with me.' Dathchaein's 
son, Sciathbreac, stepped forward and: *whom wouldest thou?' 
he asked ; she answered : ' Finn mac Cumall.* To confer with 
the damsel Finn sought the ford: *who art thou, girl,' he said, 
'and what is thy desire?' *I am Doireann, daughter of the 
Daghda's son Bodhb Derg, who' to mate with thee in considera- 
tion of bride-gift and of presents am come hither.' * What bride- 
gift ?' asked Finn. * A stipulation that for one year I be thine 
only wife, and after that in perpetuity enjoy a full half of thy 
conjugal society.' * That,' said Finn, * I concede not to any one 
of the whole world's women, neither will yield to thee.* 

"Out of her bosom then the young woman brought a cuach of 
white silver containing its fill of delicious mead, and reached it 
to Finn, who questioned : ' young woman, what is this ?' * Mead,' 
was her answer: 'delectable, potent to intoxicate.' Now to Finn y 

it was prohibition to refuse a regalement; he took the cuack \^ 
therefore, drank a draught from it and, that swallowed, straight- 
way was all demented. Upon the Fianna he turned his face, and 
every harm and flaw and mishap of battle that he knew against 
any man of them he, by operation of the frenzy that the young 
woman had worked in him, threw in their teeth. 

"Then the chieftains of Ireland's Fianna rose and left the 
place for him : namely every one of them to retire to his own 
land and country ; so that upon said hill were left none but Finn 
and myself I rose then and went after the Fianna, to whom I 
said : * men, for a cozening fairy woman's mischief that afflicts 
him, never desert your chief and lord !' Twelve times and yet 
another I collected and on this hill mustered them ; the last of 
day being come now and the first of night, the venom died out 
of Finn's tongue so that at the final time of my staying them his 
sense and memory returned to him ; but now would he have 
fallen upon his weapons of war and have chosen to die rather 
than to live. And that," ended Caeilte, "was one of the two 
days on which I had the greatest amount of hardship that ever 
befel me, as : the aforesaid day of staying the Fianna ; and the 


The Colloquy. 

day when, by bringing him * the odd drove,' I ransomed Finn 

from Cormac the king. This then is the reason that from that 

time to this they respectively are árd an fhostadha and áth an 

fhostadha^ or ' the hill * and * the ford of staying ' : — 

Cailte cecinit. 
'* The ford where Finn's Fianna were stayed . . ." 

** Great quantity of evil, of battles and encounters, was had in 
these various places named by thee, Caeilte, my soul," said 
Eochaid mac Angus Finn king of Leinster. " It is not that any 
of those things comes against me to-day," Caeilte replied, " but 
only blight and decrepitude." 

The company, Patrick accompanying them, passed on across 
duibhfidh or * black-wood,* now called ^^£4 dorcha or * dark wood,' 
to sliabh na mban or ' mountain of women * now ' the mountain 
of Aighe son of Ugaine.* They ascended into the top and, being 
set down, tarried there for a season. 

The king enquired of Caeilte: "what mountain is this, and 
what the place where we are?" "This," answered Caeilte, "is 
a mountain in the which is a fairy brugh that none (save only 
Finn accompanied with six aglaechs) has ever found; and it was 
this way: — 

"A beautiful and timorous fawn that was roused by us at 
Torach or * Torry island ' in the north of Ireland, and we, being 
six óglaechs^ followed it from Torach to this mountain of Aighe 
mac Ugaine. Here the fawn * put its head into the earth ' [i.e. 
vanished under ground], and in what direction it went [after- 
wards] we knew not. Heavy snow poured down now, making of 
the forest's branches as it were a withe-twist ; the greatness of the 
foul weather and of the storm that came robbed us of our lusti- 
hood and of our resourcefulness, and Finn said to me : * canst 
thou, Caeilte, find us protection against this nighfs tempest?' I 
suppled myself and away with me over the mountain's elbow 
to the southward where, when I took a look round, I perceived a 
well illuminated sidh furnished forth with great variety of cuachsy 
of horns and of cups. For a space I stood in front of the sidh 
considering it, and bethought me how I might manage to enter 
the place and to enquire -all about it ; or else whether it were 
back again to Finn with his few Fianna I should go. The course 
on which I determined was such as that I went into the sidlt^ 

The Colloquy. 223 

and on the house floor sat down in a chair of crystal. I surveyed 
the house round about me, and saw on the one side of it eight- 
and-twenty warriors with a woman of lovely form at each man's 
shoulder ; on the other side, six gentle and yellow-haired damsels 
that wore shag cloaks reaching to their shoulders. In the fair 
midst of the mansion another such sat in a chair and held a 
harp on which she performed and played continually ; to whom 
every time that she had sung a lay was reached a horn that she 
should take a draught from it, she handing it back to him that 
had given it to her. Round her therefore they all sat and made 

" * Caeilte my soul,' said she, * sufler that thou be reverently 
ministered to.' *By no means will I,* was my answer, *for I 
have with me those that are better than I, as Finn mac Cumall 
[with others his companions], and in this sidh he desires to 
have entertainment for this night.' The óglaech of the sidh 
said : * Caeilte my soul, go to fetch Finn ; for he in his own 
house never refused a man, neither with us shall he meet with 
denial.' I went accordingly to bring Finn, and he said : * it is [i.e. 
seems to be] a long time thou art away from us, Caeilte, for 
since the day on which I first took warrior's arms in my hand 
never have I had a night that distressed me more sorely than 
does this one.' 

"Thereafter we, being as we were six that bore shield and 
weapon, entered into the bright and spacious sidh : Finn namely, 
myself, Diartnaid 6 Duibhne^ Ossian, Oscar and mac Lughach. 
In there we sat on the edge of a couch, and to tend us worship- 
fully a soft girl came, yellow-haired, of marriageable age ; then 
she transferred us to a translucent crystal seat in the hall's centre, 
and the freshest of all meats with the oldest of all liquors were 
brought to us. Now when we had made an end of moderating 
our hunger's keenness and our thirst the Fian-chief said : * who 
among you is he whom I shall question ?' and the tallest óglaech 
of them answered : * enquire of whom thou wilt' * Warrior, who 
art thou thyself?' Firm began : * for I knew not that in Ireland 
were so many as this number present and I impotent to recognize 
them.' 'Yonder eight-and-twenty óglaechs whom thou seest in 
the sidhi the other answered, * had the same father and mother, 
and indeed are sons to the Daghda's son Midir Yellow-mane ; 

224 2^4^ Colloquy. 

our mother being Fionnchaem or 'the fair-lovely/ daughter of 
the king of sidh monaidh in the east [i.e. in Scotland], Now 
to-morrow it will be thirty years since a convention and muster 
of the tuatha dé danann was made to confer their sovereignty on 
the Daghda's son Bodhb Derg at the hospitable lightsome bruglt^ 
who of us, so many brethren as we are here, began to demand 
prisoners [i.e. hostages] ; but we said that until the tuatha dé 
danann in general had given such neither would we.' 

" ' To Midir, to our father, Bodhb Derg said : * unless thou put 
away thy sons from thee we will wall up thy sidh on thee/ We 
therefore, these eight-and-twenty brothers, came out to seek a sidh- 
place ; and searched out all Ireland until we found this obscure 
and hidden spot, in which from that time to this we abide. 
Twenty-eight brethren as I say we are here, who had each man 
of us ten hundred Sglaechs of his own ; but saving the eight-and- 
twenty that we are of one father's and one mother's progeny all 
these are now extinguished/ * And how is your extinguishment 
effected ?' asked Finn. * By the tuatha dé danann' s coming 
yearly thrice to give us battle on «this grass-clad green abroad.' 
' What,' enquired Finn, * is the long fresh grave that we saw on 
the green outside?* 'That is Dianghalach the wizard's: who 
was a good magician that the tuatha dé danann had, and the 
greatest loss that was inflicted on them.' Finn questioned: 
* what was the next loss ?' * All that the tuatha dé danann had 
of jewels, of wealth and of treasures: comprising horns, and 
cuachs, and goblets of crystal and pale gold, we at one stroke 
reft from them.' * What was the third loss?' asked Finn. Donn 
mac Midir answered : * Fethnaid daughter of Fidach, the tuatha 
dé danann' s she-minstrel: their melody, and recreation of their 
spirits all. So then to-morrow is their appointed time to be 
here to give us battle, but in fighting number we are but these 
eight-and-twenty brothers to oppose them. We had perceived our- 
selves, as being few in number, to be in peril and over-matched ; 
wherefore in form of a daft fawn we despatched yonder bare- 
headed woman to Torach in Ireland's northern part to fetch thee, 
and her ye followed to this sidh. That young woman whom ye 
see wrapped in a green mantle and washing herself, she it is that 
went to look for you. The vacant part that ye see of the sídh^ 
that is the room of them whom the tuatha dé danann have slain/ 

The Colloquy. 22$ 

"That night they passed in drinking and making merry, and 
when they rose Donn mac Midir said to Finn : * come with me 
upon the green that thou ma/st see the place in which yearly we 
and the tuatha dé danann give each other battle.' They issued 
forth and looked abroad upon the graves and monumental stones. 
Donn said : ' it is appointed that thus far the tuatha dé danann 
come to meet us.' *In what fashion [i.e. who and how many] 
come they to keep tryst with you ?' asked Finn. Donn answered 
him : * Bodhb Derg with his seven sons ; Angus Oge son of the 
Daghda with his seven sons ; Finnbarr of cnoc meadfia siuily or 
* Knockmaa * near Tuam, with his seventeen sons ; Lir of sidh 
Fionnachaidh with his twenty-seven sons, and their offspring as 
well ; Teigue son of Nuadha out of the beautiful sidh of Almh- 
ain ; Donn of the island, and Donn of the dabhach or * kieve ' ; 
the two named Glas out of sidk Ghlais in the land of Ossory ; 
Dobhran of the Duffry out of Liamhain smooth-smock's sidíi in 
the province of Leinster ; Aedh of the island out of Rathlin in 
the north ; Ferai and Aillen and Lu and Fainnle, all sons of 
Eogabal out of sidh Eogabail or * Knockany ' in the south ; Cian 
and Coban and Conn, three sons of the king of sidh monaidh 
over from Scotland ; Aedh Minbhreac of Assaroe with his seven 
sons ; the children of the mórrighan or * great queen,' daughter 
of Emmas, with her six-and-twenty she-warriors ; the two Luaths 
from Moyliffey ; Bratdn and Baillgheal and Abhallruisc out of 
the sidh of Cletty in the Bregian plain ; Cathal and Caithne and 
Catamach out of the sidh of Druimderg, from the land of Kinel- 
conall in the north ; Derg and Drecan out of the sidh of Ben- 
Edar in the east ; Bodhb Derg himself with his great household : 
ten men, ten score, and ten hundred ; all which are the chiefs 
and territorial lords of the tuatha dé danann that year by year 
come to uproot our sidh upon us.' 

" Finn re-entered the sidh and to his people imparted all this, 
then : * my faithful folk,' he said, * the necessity and the oppres- 
sion, the extremity and distress of these whose guests we find 
ourselves are great indeed ; ourselves too have chanced into a 
strait pass, and unless that in our own defence we play the men 
it is odds whether ever again we see one of our Fianna and 
followers.' * Finn, my soul,' cried each one of us, * where hast 
thou at any time marked faintness in us that thou warnest us 


220 The Colloquy. 

beforehand?' Finn answered: *my word I give that, though I 
explored the whole world, yet should I having with me this 
present number of Ireland's Fianna never know fear nor fright* 
The people of the sidh went out now, Finn with his six warriors 
accompanying them, and : * good now, Donn,' said he, * is it by 
day or by night that the tuatha dé danann come to you?* * At 
the night's junction [with day],' Donn mac Midir answered, *that 
they may do all the heavier mischief.' There they tarried there- 
fore till night came on. 

" Finn said : * let one of you go out upon the green to keep 
watch and ward for us, to the end the tuatha dé danann come 
not at us without our knowledge and unheard by us ;* nor was 
the look-out man gone far when he saw five stem battles of equal 
size that marched on him. * As it seems to me,* said he of the 
look-out [making his report], * warriors and battle-champions in 
numbers presently surround fert in druadh or the * wizard's 
grave,' and this time are a match for heroes indeed,* Then Finn 
uttered : — 

" * Worthy opponents of laechs are round the wizard's grave, with multi- 
tude of spears sharp-pointed, strong . . .' 

"'Where now is Oscar?' Finn asked. 'Here, Fian-chief,* he 
answered. 'This day do valiantly in the tuatha dé danann^ s 
battle ; so too let Dermot and mac Lugach do. Myself and 
Caeilte and Ossian it is that are the seniors of our band ; there- 
fore the battle's rearward leave ye to us, and in the fight bear us 
the sons of Midir safe : that little group of brothers that they 
are. That they should come to harm were for us, now that we 
have joined them, a treason to honour and to loyalty.' 

" Then from the last of evening's shades [i.e. from the setting 
in of darkness] to the confines of the morrow's mom we fought 
the battle, in which the tuatha dé dananris losses at any rate 
were ten men, ten score and ten hundred. 

" Bodhb Derg and Midir and Fionnbarr said now: 'how shall 
we manage with all these slain ? let Lir of sidh Fionnachaidh 
give us counsel, since he is the eldest of us.* Lir said : ' I will 
advise you : to their own sidh respectively let all carry away their 
friends and fosterlings, their sons and brethren ; but round about 
us [that tarry here] be a wall of fire thrown up on our one side, 
and on the other a defence of water made.' After this the tuatha 

The Colloquy. 227 

dé danann erected that great sepulchral stone, nor of all the 
carnage which they of our sidh had inflicted on them left so 
much as the raven might perch upon. 

" Into the sidh Finn and the sons of Midir entered sore hurt 
and bleeding, while of us others were three in very evil plight: 
mac Lughach, Oscar and Dermot Thrice during that year the 
tuatha dé danann assailed the same sídh^ and battles three we 
fought with them. Our loss from them consisted in Conn mac 
Midir ; as for us, we [that is most of us] were come off well from 
the last battle, seeing that upon Oscar and Dermot the venom 
and fury of the battle leant to such pitch that bended twigs of 
white hazel they were which maintained their raiment on them 
as they lay littered in blood upon their bed. We then, the four 
warriors that were whole stepped forth upon the green, and Ossian 
said: * an ill trip it was that we took to the sidh of Midir's sons, 
to leave behind my son and my foster-brother.* * Woe to him,*, 
said mac Lughach, *who having left Oscar and Dermot after 
him should face the Fianna: and that because for the sustaining 
of the Fian-service in arms have been no two better than they.* 

* Whoe'er he be that will so face them, it shall not be myself,' 
Finn said. With that Donn mac Midir came up to us, and: 

* good now, Donn,* said Finn again, * knowest thou of, or where 
to find, that which should heal those men?* Donn answered: 

* I know not of anything but one special physician whom the 
tuatha dé danann have ; and from him, unless the wounded have 
had their dorsal marrow severed, within a nine days* space 
assuagement and relief will be procured them so that they shall 
be hurt-whole and unscarred.* Finn asked : * how should we get 
hold of him, for no firm friends to us are they with whom he is ?* 
*At earliest day,* replied Donn, *he issues from the brugh to 
gather healing herbs, that so he may light on them still carrying 
the morning's moisture-bead [i.e. the dew].* *Donn,* said I, 

* find me one that will point out to me said physician and, dead 
or alive, he shall come with me.* 

"Then rose Aedh and Y\asiVi fuileach or 'ruber sanguinarius* 
saying: * Caeilte, my soul, come along.* They went their way to 
the dew-shot brugHs green, which when they had reached they 
saw a strapping young fellow clad in garb of defence and wear- 
ing a mantle of wethers* wool from the flock-abounding land of 


2 28 The Colloquy. 


promise ; and his cloak's skirtful of healing and balsamic herbs 
he had for putting into the wounds and hurts of such from 
among the tuatha dé danann as had been damaged in the battle. 

* Who is that, Aedh ?' I asked. He answered : * yonder is the 
óglaech to seek whom we are come ; him mind ye well that he 
escape not away from you into the sWi! At one and the same 
instant we ran upon him, and I caught him by the shoulders ; 
thence we took him to the ford on the Slaney (where the Fianna 
were stayed) in the great plain of Leinster, and here a magic 
vapour rose about us so that we were invisible. We thus having 
gained the tulach that commands the ford saw four men clad in 
fringed mantles of crimson, with four golden-hilted swords in 
their hands, and four hounds of the chase with them. To them 
we were not perceptible through the magic mist which sur- 
rounded us, but they were manifest to us, and they that were 
there were Finn's two sons: Cainche and Raighne, with my own 
two: Colla and Faelan, whose discourse turned on the loss of 
Finn mac Cumall, their captain and their lord, which for now a 
year had afflicted them. I heard the converse of my pair of sons 
and of Finn's, and their colloquy saddened me, for thus they 
spoke: *what will Ireland's Fianna do in future, without leader, 
without lord?' said Raighne. 'They have nothing to do,' said 
Colla mac Caeilte, *but to repair to Tara and then disband 
themselves, or either to create a Fian-chief for themselves'; and 
those sons wept bitterly [///. 'heavily'], copiously, for the loss of 
their two fathers and of their common lord. We came away 
from them and till we reached loch da en or 'two-bird loch,' 
by that which at the present is called the mountain of Aighe 
mac Ugaine ; we went into the sldh^ Finn and Donn mac 
Midir welcomed Liubhra the physician, and to him Oscar and 
Dermot were exhibited. 'There,' said Donn, 'are two that are 
kinsmen to me ; try now whether they be likely to convalesce 
and be healed.' The leech examined them and said : * they are 
curable — supposing my fee to be a good one.' ' Good it shall 
be indeed,' I said: 'how long now will it take to heal them?' 

* A nine days' space,' said Liubhra the protophysician. I went 
on : ' a good fee thou shalt have, even this : that thy life be left 
thee ; but and if the young men recover not with thee, mine own 
hand shall take off thy head.' The leech accordingly cured and 

The Colloquy. 229 

set them up within the time, so that they were unscarred and 

"It was after this that from Cormac mac Art, from the king 
of Ireland, and consequently upon their lord and leader Finn 
mac Cumall's absence, a gilla came to bring the Fianna to 
Almhain in order to their proceeding with Cormac to hold the^ 
Feast of Tara; and the Fianna of all Ireland in their integrity: 
both man and woman, both gilla and oglaechy and minstrel too, 
attained to fert na ndruadh on Tara's green. 

" Then GoU mac Morna sat on one side of Ireland's king, and 
her provincial kings with their retinues sat [duly ranged] in 
Tara. * Fianna of Ireland,' said Cormac, *your loss is great: 
being your leader and your lord, Finn son of CumalL' * Great 
indeed it is,' said Goll mac Morna. *It is great,' repeated 
Cormac : * for three equal losses they were which aforetime were 
inflicted on Ireland : Lugh and Conn and Conaire ; and this 
makes one of the four greatest losses that ever befell her.' 
* What course of management [//'/. * what navigation or steer- 
ing'] prescribest thou for the Fianna now, Cormac?' asked Goll 
mac Morna. The king answered : * to thee, Goll, I assign privi- 
lege of hunting and venery over all Ireland, until we know 
whether Finn be disappeared outright ; clan-Baeiscne however, 
and Finn's issue, to have of thee their choice of hunting-ground 
for this year.' The Fianna of Ireland consented to this, Goll 
saying: 'until for three years he shall have been away from all, 
and that of all Ireland no individual man's expectation any more 
look for him, in respect of the Fian-chiefry I will not oppose 
Finn [i.e. will not seek to supersede him].' 

" To Cormac now Aillbe Freckle-cheek said : * how shall Finn's 
fair woman-folk make out, these seventeen ladies namely ?' * For 
each one of them with her attendant bevy be a retired and well- 
secured house made [in which to live] for a month, for a quarter, 
and for a year, till we learn whether Finn be alive or dead ; their 
full sufficiency of meat and fluid to be provided them for that 

" Finn's minstrels turned their faces to Cormac then : Daighre 
mac Morna, Der ua Daighre^ Senach ua Daighre^ Suanach son of 
Senach, and Suanach son of Senchenn that was Finn mac 
Cumall's reciter of old tales and the sweetest that in Ireland or 

230 The Colloquy. 

Scotland ever handled timpan ; also Cnú deireoil the dwarf, and 
Blathnait his wife. Cormac answered them and said: *I am 
well pleased that ye should be in Tara ; as from myself there- 
fore ye shall have 'half-due/ and I will grant you the full 
equivalent of that stipend which Finn used to pay you [i.e. your 
old rate of pay shall be continued to you on Finn's account, I 
adding half so much on mine].' 

" Fergus True-lips, poet of the Fianna, joined them : whose 
number was ten hundred of poets and men of art. Cormac said 
to them : * for you I have Ireland's choicest prosperity, that is, 
from tonn Chliodhna or * Cleena's wave ' to tonn Rudhraighe or 

* Rury's wave.* 

"Then came Finn's meidhescal^ accompanying Garbchronan 
chief of the senior gillas^ and said : * give heed to us, Cormac ! ' 
He answered: *to you by way of comfortable maintenance I 
apportion from the broad dth loiche or *ford of Lóch^ [Le. 

* Athlo '] in the west, eastward to Ben-Edan' 

This done, in Tara they proceeded and Cormac entered teach 
mar midchuarta or * the great mid-court house,' where he had 
every man settled according to precedence deriving rightly from 
his father and grandfather: Goll mac Morna he caused to be 
set in the Fian-chief's place, Cahir More's daughter Eithne the 
poetess in a queen's room, and by her side again Aillbhe 
Freckle-cheek ; next to Aillbhe, Garadh Black-knee's daughter 
Maighinis ; and from that out all the rest according to callings 
and to rightful due. Thereupon meat and drink was served out 
to them. 

" Then Cormac stood up with a polished drinking-horn that he 
held, and said : ' it were well, men of Ireland, if in hill, in hidden 
place or rugged wild, in cliff, in inver, in river, or in any sidh of 
Ireland's or of Scotland's fairy mansions, some one from among 
you could find for us tidings of Finn.' 

" Hereupon Bernghal the bóchétach or * owner of cows in hun- 
dreds' from the borders of Slievefuad in the north, who also was 
royal hospitaller to the king of Ireland, made answer : * it was the 
day on which the Fian-chief came out of the north in pursuit of 
a fairy deer, he having with him the six warriors that were his 
companions [when they roused the quarry] : and into my hand he 
put a keen spear of special deadly quality, with sheeny head, 

The Colloquy. 231 

likewise a hound's collar, and told me to keep them by me till 
such time as we should meet again in the one spot Bemghal 
handed spear and collar to Cormac, then he to Goll, and they 
all considered it The king said: *a great loss to the men of 
Ireland is he whose spear and whose collar these are/ and 
further questioned the óglaech whether either Finn or they that 
were with him had hounds with them. *They had/ the hospi- 
taller said 'Goll/ asked Cormac, *what hounds were those?' 
''Bran and SceolangYMUA by Finn/ replied Goll: ^ Adhnuaill ^ná 
Féruaine by Ossian ; larratach and Fostadh by Oscar ; Baeth 
and Buidhe by Dermot ; Breac and Luath and Láinbhinn by 
Caeilte ; Conuall and Comrith by mac Lughach/ 

" Cormac enquired : * where is Fergus True-lips ?* * Here, noble 
sir and monarch,' answered he. * Knowest thou how long the 
Fian-chief is away from us ?' * I remember it,' the poet said : * a 
month, a quarter, and a year it is since he is missing/ and he 
uttered: — 

" ' Finn's computation how long he is . . .* 

" The king of Ireland said now : ' the loss is great ; for it is not 
our mind that may any more be set on finding those six that in 
Ireland and in Scotland were the best [i.e. I at all events give up 
all hope] ; but Cithruadh,' he continued, * many jewels, much 
wealth and treasure the Fian-chief lavished on thee, and yet 
thou tellest us not whether he be alive or dead.' * The Fian- 
chief lives,* returned Cithruadh, * but as for my telling on him I 
will not do it, seeing that he would not himself wish any such 
thing.' All in general were rejoiced at this, for they knew that 
everything which Cithruadh had ever presaged was come to 
pass. * Give it a date,* said Cormac \liL * an end * or * limit ' i.e. 
name the day of his return]. Then Cithruadh son of Ferchae- 
cait said : * on the last day of Tara's Feast the Fian-chief will be 
seen*; and this, namely for how long Finn was in sidh da en, 
constitutes a problem in * the Colloquy of the Ancients.' 

" After all this, in the sidh we tarried yet for those six weeks 
during which the Feast of Tara was maintained, and until for 
Donn mac Midir we had taken the tuatha dé dananris hostages ; 
and from that time forth the Fianna of Ireland had not more 
frequent and free intercourse with the men of settled habitation 
■than with the tuatha dé danann^ 

232 TIte Colloquy. 

The while Caeilte told this tale to Eochaid they had seen an 
óglaech approach them : a shirt of king's satin was next his skin ; 
over and outside it a tunic of the same soft fabric, and a fringed 
crimson mantle confined with a bodkin of gold upon his breast ; 
in his hand a gold-hilted sword, a golden helmet on his head, 
and Donn mac Midir it was that was there. In Patrick's bosom 
he laid his head, and gave him command over the tuatha di da-- 
nantiy who all made genuflexion to him ; and to Patrick with his 
people Donn mac Midir gave that night's entertainment. Next, 
the whole company and Patrick along with them advanced to 
Rathmore of Moyfea, and at night came in messengers from the 
king of Munster to fetch Patrick, and to tell him that the king 
would adhere to his gospel. The Saint therefore bade farewell 
to the king of Leinster and to the chief men of his people and of 
all his country, and with his familia journeyed thence to lias na 
laechraidhe or ' liss of warriors,* now called caiseal na righ or 
* Cashel of the kings/ 

Then came Eoghan son of Angus, king of both provinces of 
Munster, escorted by great numbers, to meet holy Patrick ; and 
all Munster's chiefs did him reverence, laying their lands and 
their whole riches at his discretion. " A * gospel penny ' for 
saint Patrick, king of Munster 1 " cried Benignus. " What penny 
is that, cleric?" asked the king. "A country and land for him." 
The king answered: "this town to serve him and his familia 
after him for ever." " How shall it be given to us [i.e. how shall 
the grant be defined]?" "As thus," the king said: "Patrick to 
mount upon leac na gcéad or * the flagstone of hundreds,' and so 
much as on all sides of him he can see of Munster's plain-land to 
be his." Patrick stepped up upon the stone, and to suit the 
saintly cleric the sun rose so that in all directions everything 
was lighted up for him ; also at the instant of Patrick's setting 
his foot on the flag, out of its edges rose a thousand and one 
legions of demons and betook them into the air and the firma- 
ment, seeking to evade saint Patrick. After this Patrick blesses 
the stone, and forby the benediction confers on it the virtue of 
counsel [i.e of being oracular] ; an angel of God also to pass 
over it at every evening-tide ; the king of Munster accompanied 
by a great chief's nine sons to fast upon it, and he should have 
whatsoever boon he craved ; finally, that its fire should be one 

The Colloquy. 233 

of the three which at the last shall in Ireland be alive and 

The king of Munster, her nobles too, make Caeilte welcome 
and : " Caeilte, my soul," quoth the king, " why was lecu: na gcéad 
conferred on this stone ?" " I remember its derivation," Caeilte 
answered : " cognisance of Heaven we never had until Finn sat 
on that stone and a hundred times put his thumb under his 
knowledge-tooth ; whereat Heaven and Earth [i.e. things celes- 
tial and terrestrial] were shewn him, the Very and Glorious 
God's faith and, Táilchenn^ thine advent to Ireland in which 
[thenceforth] should be saints and righteous men, and religion of 
the Cross and of devotion." " Who first made a mansion here ?" 
Caeilte answered : " Fiacha Broad-crown son of Eoghan, who for 
thirty years ruled both provinces of Munster ; by him a strong 
ditch was run round this town, and therein he dwelt" Ut dixit 
Patricitis\ — 

" This stone, its name is clock na gciad . . .'* 

" Have victory and benediction, holy Patrick," cried the king 
of Munster: " 'tis good knowledge that thou likewise [i.e. as well 
as Caeilte] hast imparted to us ! " 

The entire company abode there until out of his fiery zone the 
sun rose, and filled the world with his light. They went their 
way thence westwards to rdithin na niongnadh or * the little rath 
of wonders * on Moyfemen ; and at one end of it the king with 
the nobles of Munster sat, Patrick and Caeilte taking the other. 

Then the king questioned Caeilte : " why was this called * the 
little rath of wonders ' ?" which made Caeilte to say: — 

" A wondrous windfall that Finn found on this rath awaiting him : three 
men of surpassing form, and a single hound among them. 

" It was of a day," he went on, " that we the three battles of 
the Fianna came to this tulach and saw three óglaechs awaiting 
us, with one hound ; in the whole world was not a colour but 
was in that animal, which also as compared with other hounds 
shewed an enormous bulk. They sat before Finn, and he 
asked: 'whence come ye young men?' *Out of the greater 
loruath or * Norway,* in the east,' they replied. * And for what 
come ye ?' * To make our covenants of service and our friend- 
ship with thee.* *What is the benefit that shall accrue to us 

. . viii^ vvilh lis?* • W* Lrrrrcz 

si. I v)i Us a separate qiisJif-isiL:!:- ■'Aliat are t±iasc?' 

. . I. Kill : * I will diithaiT* itíí w.«:-::;:"r!g and warding 

,» V. . auvl Scotland's Fann;^ • It every stres of 

, ^;.i;:lo cvmibttt that shall ccmrr: ricm I will relieve 

V ..I .u\ Inil ktx'p 9till/ said the acrtL The tiiird said: 

, _ V \ V »> uiilWulty that shall crcx = fir my lord, and 

V '.Mvl ovciything that may be pedrioned of him. 

.. v., he Uvklcd, * HO long as thers snaZ be deer in 

sv'vulo tor the Fianna e\'en- ctbc rirfit, and on 

. . ...vv.i I will do the like/ Finr a-Tnied : 'what will 

, X .i..a iv* l>c with us so?' * We zl^izi three con- 

. . svt *ih;U when once nij^ht shall ^H none ever 

» . I. a a viislAncr or close to, towards oor camp ; 

. ,.\».\i^ much cjir little, portioned oct to ns [Le. 

. V .4 vsaxclvcs] ; and that to us the Fianna of 

. , V » Nk v^ their hunting [i.e. their pDorcst game 

,. . . . »' v|/ * On >tiur conscience now,' said Finn, 

\ K»4 ííí^ht comes no man see yoc?' 'We 

..» V .vvl ;Vy: * but be it a long time or a short 

. . . \^ . vvvp compan} \lit. * be on one path '\ 

\\c will however tell you thus much: 

^ , .,. . *sv which make our number every third 

i.isl wc the other two watch him, where- 

_ j^k; i^^^vc any to see us/ Now to Finn it 

t V A^ xvV « dead man unless that weapons 

1 ' K V s^'ic] he had the remedy at hand : he 

I » • ^ ihÍH rath. 

I >v ■ ^ ^^.^^^^^ xxitxi of science belonging to the 

-- * I .^ \a<^mh son of Ferchaegat, to demand 

\\ • x\ »«tv ounces of gold and as many of 

I » " . s V nhruadh. * We shall find a help for 

l«-'. ,^ * (^"lood now, men of art,' the three 

« « " .^., .^^v^ your poem-fee to-night than to- 

^ ' • ' \ >, "^,^ „h/ replied the learned. 

A -^ »»»' ^ .^ HÍoresaid to the hound's lair a 

^ •^ * " \ ^, ^i,>Hgnadh ; and in their presence 

# • ^ *'^ ...s^int of gold and silver, which was 

^^' *'* , AWv\)» they went 

The Colloquy. 235 

" Here Finn said : * how shall the three battles of the Fianna 
do to-night, they having no water?' and one of the three en- 
quired: *how many right drinking-horns has Finn?' 'Three 
hundred and twelve,' I told them ; for as I have said : — 

" Twelve horns and three hundred . . . 

"*Pass me the horns into my hand,' the óglaech said, 'and 
whatsoever shall be found in them that drink ye.' Thrice he 
filled them with ale, and with the third time of filling they that 
drank were confused and cheerily vociferous. 'Wonderful in- 
deed is the process of this banquet,' said Finn ; whence lios na 
fleidhe or ' liss of the banquet ' is the name of that one in which 
it was given to Finn, and leabadh in chon or * the hound's bed ' is 
that of the lair. For this reason it was," ended Caeilte, "that 
this was called * the little rath of wonders,' and that other little 
one rdtk chinn chon or ' rath of the hound's head ' ; and in this 
wise they were for a year in the Fianna." 

Then Eogan mac Angus mac Nadfraech, having with him 
Patrick and Caeilte, progressed to [another] rath chinn ckon, in the 
south part of Moyfemen, and to lios an bhanntrachta or * liss of 
the woman-folk.' The whole company sat upon the rath and 
Caeilte sat in front of the kinjg, who asked : " why were this rath 
and this liss called by those names ?" Caeilte made answer: "it 
was a royal hospitaller of hundreds that was here : Cellach son 
of Dubh dead or ' niger dentatus ' ; whose [bucolic] wealth and 
substance when they were numbered covered all the great plain 
of Femem, but in the world was not a man better endowed than 
he was with churlish- and with niggardli-ness. To the number 
of thirty that wore shields and bore arms we, after the hunting 
of sliabh CiMy were come with Ireland's and Scotland's Fian- 
chief, and there sat down on the rails of couches; but before 
ever an end was made of tending us, on every one of us indi- 
vidually (Finn alone excepted) the man of the house heaped 
insult and reproach. 

"A certain fierce man of the Fianna: Cuinnscleo, son of Ainns- 
cleo king of Britain in the east, spoke at him then and said : ' a 
mighty ready bit of dog's-head snapping and snarling this is to 
which the boor has treated Ireland's Fianna!' 'Thou hast 
lighted on a happy word by way of name for him,* said Finn : 
* fix cenn con or ' dog's head ' on him.' " 


234 The Colloquy. 

from your being with us ?' * We, being as we are three persons, 
have each man of us a separate qualification.' * What are those ?' 
Says one of them : * I will discharge the watching and warding 
of all Ireland's and Scotland's Fianna.' * Of every stress of 
battle and of single combat that shall occur to them I will relieve 
them, let them all but keep still,' said the next The third said : 
* I will meet every difficulty that shall crop up for my lord, and 
of me shall be had everything that may be petitioned of him. 
As for the hound,' he added, *so long as there shall be deer in 
Ireland he will provide for the Fianna every other night, and on 
the nights between I will do the like/ Finn asked : * what will 
ye demand of us and to be with us so?' * We claim three con- 
ditions,' they replied : * that when once night shall fall none ever 
come, whether within a distance or close to, towards our camp ; 
that neyer be anything, much or little, portioned out to us [i.e. 
we are to provide for ourselves] ; and that to us the Fianna of 
Ireland allot the worst of their hunting [i.e. their poorest game 
country on all occasions].' * On your conscience now,' said Finn, 
•why seek ye that when night comes no man see you?' *We 
have a reason,' answered they : * but be it a long time or a short 
that [you and] we shall keep company [///. * be on one path '], 
question us no more. [We will however tell you thus much: 
that] of these three óglaechs which make our number every third 
night one man is dead and we the other two watch him, where- 
fore it is that we would not have any to see us.' Now to Finn it 
was a thing prohibited to see a dead man unless that weapons 
had slain him ; but [in this case] he had the remedy at hand : he 
needed but to keep clear of this rath. 

** To Finn now came seven men of science belonging to the 
people of Cithruadh son of Airemh son of Ferchaegat, to demand 
the fee for a poem : thrice fifty ounces of gold and as many of 
silver, to take to Tara for Cithruadh. * We shall find a help for 
that,' said Scannal 6 Liathdin. * Good now, men of art,' the three 
óglaechs said: *had ye rather get your poem-fee to-night than to- 
morrow?' 'To-morrow suffices us,' replied the learned. 

** Then came those óglaechs aforesaid to the hound's lair a 
little way outside of ráithín na niongnadh ; and in their presence 
the hound threw up that amount of gold and silver, which was 
^iven to the schoolmen and away they went 

The Colloquy. 235 

" Here Finn said : * how shall the three battles of the Fianna 
do to-night, they having no water?' and one of the three en- 
quired: 'how many right drinking-horns has Finn?' 'Three 
hundred and twelve/ I told them ; for as I have said : — 

" Twelve horns and three hundred . . . 

"'Pass me the horns into my hand/ the óglaech said, 'and 
whatsoever shall be found in them that drink ye/ Thrice he 
filled them with ale, and with the third time of filling they that 
drank were confused and cheerily vociferous. 'Wonderful in- 
deed is the process of this banquet,' said Finn ; whence lias na 
fleidhe or ' liss of the banquet ' is the name of that one in which 
it was given to Finn, and leabadh in chan or ' the hound's bed ' is 
that of the lair. For this reason it was," ended Caeilte, " that 
this was called ' the little rath of wonders,' and that other little 
one rath chinn ckon or ' rath of the hound's head ' ; and in this 
wise they were for a year in the Fianna." 

Then Eogan mac Angus mac Nadfraech, having with him 
Patrick and Caeilte, progressed to [another] rdth chinn chon^ in the 
south part of Moyfemen, and to lios an bhanntrachia or ' liss of 
the woman-folk/ The whole company sat upon the rath and 
Caeilte sat in front of the kinjg, who asked : " why were this rath 
and this liss called by those names?" Caeilte made answer: '*it 
was a royal hospitaller of hundreds that was here: Cellach son 
of Dubh dead or ' niger dentatus ' ; whose [bucolic] wealth and 
substance when they were numbered covered all the great plain 
of Femem, but in the world was not a man better endowed than 
he was with churlish- and with niggardli-ness. To the number 
of thirty that wore shields and bore arms we, after the hunting 
of sliabh Cua, were come with Ireland's and Scotland's Fian- 
chief, and there sat down on the rails of couches; but before 
ever an end was made of tending us, on every one of us indi- 
vidually (Finn alone excepted) the man of the house heaped 
insult and reproach. 

"A certain fierce man of the Fianna: Cuinnscleo, son of Ainns- 
cleo king of Britain in the east, spoke at him then and said : ' a 
mighty ready bit of dog's-head snapping and snarling this is to 
which the boor has treated Ireland's Fianna!' 'Thou hast 
lighted on a happy word by way of name for him/ said Finn : 
' fix cenn con or ' dog's head ' on him/ " 





r -£^ 

n ins vHT' *Tre rhres jet 

t^ M^ ^^^ i^a'Mfa ■ *!■ >« . ««i^i^ -.a.^^M^i^ V —.^i^^k ^^^* ■ ■ j> 

— y mir i:^ rrerr rsrrrc. Tze: "fzirl tine LcvcTcr tbey 
ierj wil. aruf ZLcnn ssúi: * z:s 2 strar:^ tiling how 
■sc J^lsec^L: are f:»c ccw a year past, arid their hoond 
ji mTr'p ?r " T**^ ; fcr thev ÍLave proclaf nied that after nightfall 
-^ffi^ diL^ gj Icok at thern.' Then the king of Uiidia's sons 

through the fire-wail ; when they were there they 

The Colloquy. 237 

got their arms ready to their hands, and so scanned both men 
and dog. But the huge hound which daily they had in the 
chase was at this instant no greater than a lap-dog such as a 
great lady or man of high estate may keep ; one man moreover 
with his keen sword naked in his hand standing sentry over the 
animal while to the mouth of the same another held a cuach of 
fair silver ; and the choicest of every kind of liquor which any 
individual of the three might require of him, that is what the 
hound kept on ejecting from his mouth into the cuach. 

" Then to the hound an óglaech of them said : ' it is well, thou 
noble and righteous and high-couraged I give heed now to the 
treachery wrought thee by Finn/ At this the hound wagged his 
tail hard, whereby was created a factitious magic wind that 
made their shields to fall from our men's shoulders, their spears 
from their hands, their swords from their sides, and to be cast 
before their faces into the fiery wall. Hereat the three killed the 
king of Ulidia's two sons ; which being effected the dog turned, 
applied his breath to them, and reduced them to dust and ashes 
so that nor blood nor flesh nor bone was ever found of them. 
Their's then are the two mounds concerning which thou ques- 
tionedst me," ended Caeilte: "but, mould and sand excepted, 
whosoever should open them would not find them to contain the 
smallest thing." 

" Never, Caeilte, hast thou told us tale more marvellous, more 
fraught with mystery than this," said the king : " but what is yon 
high fence beside the pillar-stone over in the rath?" "That," 
Caeilte said, " is the she-company's wage from Finn yearly, which 
it was Ossian's son Oscar that hid: ten score ounces of gold 
thrice told, and where he hid it was under that monolith's base." 
The concourse of them went and excavated, and brought out the 
gold : a third of which was given to the king of Munster, a third 
to Patrick and Caeilte, and to the clergy another third. " The 
gold lasts on," said Caeilte, "but neither the Fian-chief, nor 
Oscar that hid it, have endured " ; and he uttered : — 

" The dog's-head rath remains to-day ..." 

"As touching those same three óglaeclis^ Caeilte: was it with 
you they continued after, or away from you they went?" 
" They tarried with us until at ráithin na naenbar or * the rath of 
nines ' in Leinster's great plain the three battles of the Fianna 

238 The Colloquy^ 

were told off into small sections of nine men, and till in quest of 
the king of Ulidia's two sons fallen by the king of Iruath's sons 
out of the east nine óglaechs and nine gillas visited every town in 

" After he had dispersed us Finn mac Cumall for his part be- 
took himself to Tara Luachra, there being with him of the 
Fianna none but the camp-followers and drudges. 

" As for those squads of nine which for the purpose of seeking 
the king of Ulidia's sons he had made of the Fianna, to the 
same place and all in one night they repaired to join him ; but 
brought no hint whether those men were alive or dead." 

Here Patrick and the king of Munster passed southerly on- 
wards to benn bhán in reatha or *the white hill of running,* 
between Slieveriach and Slievecrot Patrick and the rest sat 
down, and the king questioned Caeilte: "why was this benn 
called by such a name?" and he answered that: — 

" It was once upon a time that Finn was on this tulachy upon 
which [as they came to it] they had seen a woman that awaited 

them. A crimson mantle 

[here is a lacuna embracing the death of Edaein Fair-hair of Ben- 
Edar ; the story of the king of Munstet^s daughter Cuillenn wooed 
by Cullanny son of Fergus king of Ulidia ; and the opening lines 
of Treofis daughter Bébhionn and her visit to Finn nuzc CumalT] 
. . . . ' By my word and indeed,' Goll answered, * never have 
either I or any other seen a woman bigger than she.* Out of her 
bosom the woman took her long graceful hand ; on which were 
three rings of gold, there being two on the other, and every 
one of them as thick as a three- ox yoke. *It were but right to 
question her,' said Goll; but Finn objected: *how could that be, 
unless we rose to our feet ? and 'tis a question whether even so 
she could hear us.' 

" To confer and to converse with her the whole company rose 
now and stood, but simultaneously with them she too rose. 
* Maiden,' said Finn, ' sit down and on the hill-side lean thine 
elbow, if so be thou desire us to hear anything from thee.* Upon 
the hill then she lay along, and the Fian-chief sought to know of 
her out of what land she came and who was she herself ' Out 
of the land of Lasses in the west,' she said, ' where the sun sets : 
of which country's king I am daughter.' * What is thy name?* 'Sly 

The Cjolloquy. 239 

name is Bebhionn daughter of Treon.* 'And why is that land 
called * of lasses *? * Of men/ she replied, * there are in it none 
but my father with his three sons, whereas nine daughters and 
seven score they are that have been born to him : hence that is 
dubbed 'the land of lasses.' 'What country is the nearest to 
it?' 'The land of Men.' 'Who is king over it?' ^ Cédach 
croidhearg or * the crimson-red possessor of hundreds,* who to his 
own share has sons eight score and an only daughter. Now to a 
son of his, to handsome Aedh son of Cedach, I was given : thrice 
was given, and three times (this being the third) ran away from 
him/ 'Who or what directed thee to this country?' 'It was 
three fishers that the wind blew off this land and over to us: 
they informed us of this region, in which they affirmed a good 
warrior, Finn mac Cumall, to be. If then thou be that óglaech^ I 
am come to seek thee and to be under thy safeguard.' Then 
she took off her glove and laid her hand in Finn's, whereat he 
said : ' put thy hand in Goll mac Moma's : with no warrior in 
Ireland is it more expedient for thee to have tie of friendship 
and of guarantee than with the same.* In Goll's hand accord- 
ingly the maid laid hers and with him knitted those ties. 

" With that they saw come towards them in headlong career 
a hart with some of the Fianna's hounds after him, but : ' let the 
deer be,' said Finn, ' for 'tis not to any hunting of our hounds that 
we will trust to-night, but rather will have recourse to some óglaech 
of the Fianna. Where then is Finn son of Cuan ?' ' Here am I,* 
he answered ' Precede us now to thy house, and for this night 
be we provided and ministered to by thee.' ' To give thee aught 
is to us a grateful task ; for eight score milch herds I have in the 
pastures of Luachra, and by means of thee it was that I came by 
all those.' But of Finn mac Cumall's virtues was this : that no 
matter how much he should at any time have bestowed on any 
man, neither by day nor by night did he ever bring it up against 
him. So to his own house Finn mac Cuan repaired in advance 
of the Fianna. 

"To return to the young woman: she doffed her polished 
gilded helmet all bejewelled, and in seven score tresses let down 
her fair curly golden hair, at the wealth of which when it was 
loosened all stood amazed, Finn saying : ' great gods of our 
adoration, a huge marvel Conn's grandson Cormac, and Eithne 

230 The Colloquy. 

Scotland ever handled timpan ; also Cnú deireoil the dwarf, and 
Blathnait his wife. Cormac answered them and said: *I am 
well pleased that ye should be in Tara ; as from myself there- 
fore ye shall have 'half-due/ and I will grant you the full 
equivalent of that stipend which Finn used to pay you [i.e. your 
old rate of pay shall be continued to you on Finn's account, I 
adding half so much on mine].' 

" Fergus True-lips, poet of the Fianna, joined them : whose 
number was ten hundred of poets and men of art. Cormac said 
to them: *for you I have Ireland's choicest prosperity, that is, 
from tonn Chliodhna or * Cleena's wave ' to tonn Rudhraighe or 

* Rury's wave.' 

"Then came Finn's meidhescal^ accompanying Garbchronan 
chief of the senior gillas, and said : * give heed to us, Cormac ! ' 
He answered: *to you by way of comfortable maintenance I 
apportion from the broad dtk lóiche or 'ford of Lóch^ [Le. 

* Athlo '] in the west, eastward to Ben-Edar.' 

This done, in Tara they proceeded and Cormac entered teach 
mar midchuarta or *the great mid-court house,' where he had 
every man settled according to precedence deriving rightly from 
his father and grandfather: Goll mac Morna he caused to be 
set in the Fian-chief's place, Cahir More's daughter Eithne the 
poetess in a queen's room, and by her side again Aillbhe 
Freckle-cheek; next to Aillbhe, Garadh Black-knee's daughter 
Maighinis ; and from that out all the rest according to callings 
and to rightful due. Thereupon meat and drink was served out 
to them. 

" Then Cormac stood up with a polished drinking-horn that he 
held, and said: ' it were well, men of Ireland, if in hill, in hidden 
place or rugged wild, in cliff, in inver, in river, or in any sidh of 
Ireland's or of Scotland's fairy mansions, some one from among 
you could find for us tidings of Finn.' 

" Hereupon Bernghal the bóchétach or ' owner of cows in hun- 
dreds' from the borders of Slievefuad in the north, who also was 
royal hospitaller to the king of Ireland, made answer: *it was the 
day on which the Fian-chief came out of the north in pursuit of 
a fairy deer, he having with him the six warriors that were his 
companions [when they roused the quarry] : and into my hand he 
put a keen spear of special deadly quality, with sheeny head, 

The Colloquy. 231 

likewise a hound's collar, and told me to keep them by me till 
such time as we should meet again in the one spot. Bemghal 
handed spear and collar to Cormac, then he to Goll, and they 
all considered it The king said: *a great loss to the men of 
Ireland is he whose spear and whose collar these are/ and 
further questioned the óglaech whether either Finn or they that 
were with him had hounds with them. *They had,' the hospi- 
taller said. *Goll/ asked Cormac, *what hounds were those?* 
^ Bran and SceolanghíAá by Finn,' replied Goll: * Adhnuaill ^xiá 
Féruaiite by Ossian ; larraiach and Fostadh by Oscar ; Baeth 
and Buidhe by Dermot ; Breac and Luath and Ldinbhinn by 
Caeilte ; Conuall and Comrith by mac Lughach.' 

" Cormac enquired : * where is Fergus True-lips ?' * Here, noble 
sir and monarch,' answered he. * Knowest thou how long the 
Fian-chief is away from us ?' * I remember it,' the poet said : *a 
month, a quarter, and a year it is since he is missing,' and he 
uttered : — 

^ * Finn's computation how long he is . . .' 

" The king of Ireland said now : * the loss is great ; for it is not 
our mind that may any more be set on finding those six that in 
Ireland and in Scotland were the best [i.e. I at all events give up 
all hope] ; but Cithruadh,' he continued, * many jewels, much 
wealth and treasure the Fian-chief lavished on thee, and yet 
thou tellest us not whether he be alive or dead.' * The Fian- 
chief lives,' returned Cithruadh, * but as for my telling on him I 
will not do it, seeing that he would not himself wish any such 
thing.' All in general were rejoiced at this, for they knew that 
everything which Cithruadh had ever presaged was come to 
pass. 'Give it a date,' said Cormac \lit *an end' or 'limit' i.e, 
name the day of his return]. Then Cithruadh son of Ferchae- 
cait said : * on the last day of Tara's Feast the Fian-chief will be 
seen ' ; and this, namely for how long Finn was in sidh da en, 
constitutes a problem in * the Colloquy of the Ancients.' 

"After all this, in the sidh we tarried yet for those six weeks 
during which the Feast of Tara was maintained, and until for 
Donn mac Midir we had taken the tuatha dé danantís hostages ; 
and from that time forth the Fianna of Ireland had not more 
frequent and free intercourse with the men of settled habitation 
^an with the tuatha dé danannJ* 

242 The Colloquy. 

the waves and the deep of the sea' came between us [Le. we 
being now out of our depth I lost sight of him among the rollers, 
and so landed again]. Then as we stood and watched him 
fixedly we saw a great galley, with two that rowed her, bear 
down out of the west ; he got on board, and we never knew 
which way they went from us. Our three battalions returned 
eastward to this tulach and Finn sought an account of us, which 
I gave him, and on the ground we laid the shield and spear 
before him. ' Excellent in sooth those arms are,' said the young 
woman : * being indeed the spear which is named the torainnchle- 
asach or * performer of the thunder-feat' so-called, and the shield 
the donnchraebhach or * red-arabesqued.' Finn, it is well,' she 
went on : * by thee now be my grave and my burial cared for 
becomingly ; for it was while I trusted to thy guarantee and 
honour that I came by my death, and to thee it was that I came 
into Ireland.' Her bracelets she gave to the bardic folk: to CnA 
dheireoil^ to Blathnait his wife, and to the harper Daighre ; soul 
parted from body with her, here she was laid under-ground, and 
from her the name of druim na tnnd mairbhe or * ridge of the 
dead woman' was conferred on this druim or * ridge,' O king of 
Munster," ended Caeilte. 

"And daire in chogair or * oak-grove of the con.spiracy' \lit 
'whisper'], whence is it?" asked the king of Munster. "The 
four," Caeilte answered, " of whom thou hast heard me tell how 
they were at rdithln na niongnadh^ the three óglaechs and their 
hound namely: to kill these the Fianna conspired here." " But 
what cause had they to conspire against them, and they in their 
own service ?" " They understood not the manner and practice 
after which they disposed themselves: that they must have a 
camp apart, with a rampart of fire round about them and none 
to see them until rising-time on the morrow. Finn however 
said : * by no means would I have them slain ; for of the whole 
world's men they are the best in vigour and in spear-skill, and 
they possess three arts for the sake of which it is not right to 
kill them: firstly, were all possible men laid in disease and 
sickness, let but the one man of them apply certain herbs to the 

ailment of each 

\iiere is a laaina covering tfte remainder of this story and that of 
the three sons of Uar son of Indast ; Caeilte' s problem to Patrick ; 

The Colloquy. 243 

the charming of the pernicious birds that ravaged tfiefieldsy and tlie 
forepart to Patrick's decision in the matter of Aedh mac Muiredach 
king of Connacht and Bodhb Der^s daughter Aillenn iolchrothach 

or ^ the variously beautiful * which follows here"] 

" I am she," answered the young woman. " What is it," Patrick 
went on, "that maintains you [i.e. thee and thine] thus in the 
zenith of your form and comeliness ?" " All such of us as par- 
took of Goibhniu's banquet, nor pain nor sickness troubles them — 
but, holy Patrick, in my case and the king of Connacht's what is 
thine award ?** " It is a good one," the Saint replied: " by God 
and myself it is determined that a man be restricted to one single 
wedded wife, and this prescription we [that are here] may not 
transgress." "And I," said the girl, "what am I to do now?" 
" To retire to thy home and sidh^" Patrick enjoined her, " and if 
the king of Leinster's daughter depart before thee, that man on 
whom thou hast bestowed thy love to have thee thenceforth as 
his only wife. But if, whether by day or by night, thou do either 
the king or his present spouse a mischief, I will spoil thee in 
such wise that not thy mother, nor thy father, nor yet thy 
guardian shall care to see thee " ; and Patrick uttered : — 
" O Aillenn, generous, crimson-cheeked . . .** 

" Is this then thy fixed determination," she asked : " that so 
long as he shall have that wife I may not be given to the king?" 
"Even so," answered the Saint "What remains then, holy 
Cleric," she went on, "but this: by thy word's truthfulness to 
conjure thee that should the king's wife go before me I be given 
to him ?" Patrick said : " I affirm on my veracity that if she go 
first thou shak be granted to him." 

Then the young woman wept plentifully, wofully, and the 
king said : " I am dear to thee." " Dear indeed," she replied. 
" Of the human tribe is none more beloved than thou art to me," 
he said, "but that I may not go beyond the conditions and 
prohibition of the Tdilchenn and of the Very God." So the 
maid departed to her sidh till such time as the story again 
touches on her. 

For three days with their nights Patrick, Caeilte and the 
company tarried in that spot ; then they progressed to fert 
Fiadhmair or * Fiadhmor's grave ' on machaire an scdil or ' the 
hero's plain,* now called magh nAeiox 'the plain of Aei,' where 

R 2 

244 TAe Colloquy. 

all sat down, and Patrick too : whence suidhe Pátraic or ' Patrick's 
seat ' is the name of that place. 

The king of Connacht welcomed Caeilte and enquired of him : 
" why was the name of * Fiadhmor's grave ' given to this place 


\lacuna comprising the main part of how Fiadhmór mac Arist 
king of Scotland came to Ireland in quest of Aei daughter of Finn 

mac Cumair\ 

"so from the shades of evening until the morrow's morn we 
fought this fight, and our bodies streamed with blood ; we were 
the victors nevertheless. From these three heroes we took their 
heads, and agreed among ourselves to carry them off and so to 
go back again. This course we abandoned however and rather 
turned upon the rest of the invaders that were on the shore, of 
whom in our first shock of battle we slew four hundred óglaechs ; 
the three battles of them converged upon us and for the fair day's 
length till night-time we strove with them ; then when they saw 
that their champions were fallen they broke to their vessels and 
swift galleys, and we came off full of wounds and bleeding. 

" By this time fear on our account had taken the Fian-chief, and 
he said : *Fianna of Ireland, go ye in pursuit of the three that went 
from you '; but just as they rose in their three serried phalanxes 
we came up to them at this hill, and before Finn we laid the 
heads upon the ground. It was I," Caeilte said, "that killed 
Fiadhmor, Dermot that killed Circall, and Oscar that slew 
Congna. The three heads were bestowed on yonder tulachs and 
hence they bear those denominations, while *the battle of trágh. 
Eot/iaile ' is the name of this battle in the Fian-lore." 

" Success and benediction, Caeilte," said the king of Connacht, 
" and if thou desiredst jewels and rich things we would give them 
thee I " " Thou art all the better of having offered them [i.e. hast 
the merit of a generous action], but I need them not," answered 

Again they came on : to breicshliabh or ' spotted mountain,' 
i.e. * Bricklieve ' near loch Arrow, called sliabh forfnaeile or * bald- 
topped mountain ' also, i.e. * Slieveformoyle * ; and to suidhe Finn 
or 'Finn's seat,' i.e. 'Seefinn,' on the mountain's summit; and as 
they sat there Caeilte, surveying the place in which Finn was 
wont to have his seat, wept. " Caeilte, my soul," said the king 

The Colloquy. 245 

of Connacht, " what makes thee to weep ? is it perhaps the sight 
of that spot where Finn sat : of Formoyle of the Fianna ?" " That 
indeed it is^" he answered : " for this mountain was their choicest 
hunting-ground: round about lock na neilltedh or *the loch of 
hinds ' that is to say, which now is called loch fortnaeile or * loch 
of the Formoyle*; and cluain na damraidJie or 'the lawn of 
harts/ presently called cell tulach or 'the church of tulachs^ 
which was Conan Mael mac Morna's town ; and ros na mac- 
raidlie or * the wood of lads/ now in airm or ' the place/ where a 
part of the Fianna's horses were kept ; on to the dun of Saltran 
Long-heel, now called cell Chaeimhin or * saint Caeimin's church ' 
upon the river Suca ; thence on to main na fostadha or * the 
moor of staying,' known as main an tachair or * moor of the 
affray'; and so to carraic an fhomorach or 'rock of the pirate/ at 
this time called dun niór'* 

The king farther questioned *Caeilte : " whence was Finn mac 
Cumall's origin ?" and he replied: "of Leinster, being of the úi 
Thairrsigh^ that is from glaise Bolcáin ; or he was Finn son of 
Cumall son of Tredfiom son of Cairbre cbWgA garbshrón or * rough- 
nose' son of Fiacha fóbhreac or 'the slightly freckled' of the úi 
-/^4^í^l?, a quibus ' Offaley.'" "Whence sprang his mother?" "She 
was Muirne smooth-neck, daughter of Teigue son of Nuadha, of 
the tuatha dé danann ; and that [i.e. Finn] was one of the five best 
warriors that in Ireland ever took shield and sword ; and of all 
the world's north-westernmost part the hand pre-eminent in be- 
stowing of jewels, of rich things, and of great wage ; one of the 
three best men that ever fell to the island of the Gael ; one who, 
if only a man had a head to eat with and legs upon which to go 
[and to carry off his bounty], never denied one in any matter and, 
to the end none should say it was fear that moved him, never 
turned and looked behind him." 

"What \yere the standing Fianna's names?" asked the king. 
" Finn mac Cumall verily," Caeilte began, " and Ossian with his 
four sons : Oscar, Ossian, Echtach and Ulach ; Raighne Wide- 
eye, Caine the crimson-red, Uillenn Sharp-edge, Faelan the virile 
and Aedh Beg, all sons of Finn ; Finn More son of Cuan son of 
Murrough, high chief of Munster's Fianna ; Finn son of Teme- 
nan, chief of the Decian Fianna in Munster ; Finn son of Urgna, 
chief of Kinelconall's Fianna ; Finn son of Foghaeth and Finn 

246 The Colloquy. 

son of Abhratruadh or * Red-eyebrow/ the two Fian-chiefs of 
Dalaradia in the north ; Finn Bane grandson of Bresal, Fian-chief 
of Hy-Kinsellach ; Finn^r an chatnpair or ' man of contention/ 
Fian-chief of Scotland ; GoU Gulbain and Cas of Cuailgne, the 
two Fian-chiefs of Ulidia in the north; Deghocs three sons: 
Fead and Faeidh and Foscadh; Encherd Beirre's three sons: 
Glas and Gear and Gubha ; Caeilte mac Ronan and his two 
sons : Faelan and CoIIa ; Goth gaeithe or ' spear of the wind ' 
mac Ronan, who when he desired to assert his own running 
power used to be a javelin cast in front of all the Fianna; Lergan 
the swift from Luachair in the west, that used to bring in the 
wild hinds as another would fetch home his own proper kine ; 
V j Diannaid 6 Duibhne of the men of Munster, that never knew 
weariness of foot nor shortness of breath nor, whether in going 
out or in coming in, ever flagged ; mac Lugach the impetuous 
and strong : primest young man of Ireland's and of Scotland's 
Fianna, mainstay of universal Fianry's valour ; Bran Beg, grand- 
son of Buacachan, chief comptroller of Ireland's and of Scot- 
land's Fianna ; Scannal grandson of Liathan, leader of their 
striplings ; Sciathbreac son of Dathchain, the Irish Fianna's best 
man at games ; Goll More mac Moma, with his twice thirty own 
brothers and fifteen hundred of one kith and kin ;'and the three 
* men of instrument * from Slievefuad, having three instruments 
of music which they played concertedly and facing each other 
[i.e. all three facing inwards], and the which when any heard 
neither trouble nor hardship any more afflicted him." " What," 
asked the king of Connacht, "were those óglaechí names?" ^^Luath, 
Leidmhechy and Lánláidir^ i.e. *the swift,* *the destroying,' *the 
powerfully strong,' who were of the standing Fianna," Caeilte 
answered : " the above being the names of those chiefs and lords 
and men of territory whom Finn had, and that thrice in every 
year used to victual him in his own liss, and were performers of 
the dórdfiansa. These then, king of Connacht, are the questions 
thou enquiredst of me," Caeilte ended, and straightway benumbed 
in stupor fell down on the hillside. For three days and three 
nights after that he remained without capacity to travel or to 
go, fretting for his comrades and for his foster-fellows ; where- 
fore here the king of Connacht had a camp pitched, and they 
caused Caeilte to be bathed. 

The Colloquy. 247 

Next they drew on to cluain na ndamh or ' the lawn of stags/ 
which now is called cluain intdheargtha or * the lawn of reproach/ 
where they camped ; Patrick blessed the town, and of Caeilte 
the king sought the reason of such two names. 

"It was a special bounty of the chase that Finn and the 
Fianna's three battles had here : a hart to every two of them, 
and to Finn three ; whence the spot was called * the lawn of 
stags.' But * the lawn of reproach ' was conferred on it for this 
reason: when clan-Morna were on terms of depredation upon 
Finn, once on a time just as they were busied with their meal 
and had their portions before them they never noticed anything 
until we were come round about this ridge and so surrounded 
them. Then said GoU mac Morna : * a great reproach it is that 
these men have fixed on us ! ' 'Be * the lawn of reproach ' its 
name henceforth/ said Conan Mael mac Morna. But," said 
Caeilte, " their gallantry we must not suppress to clan-Morna's 
prejudice: for out through the battalion of the Fianna came 
the weighty phalanx in their might, nor did we avail to draw 
blood or to have ' a superficial reddening ' of them. Here we 
sat down by their fires, and to Finn a basin of pale gold was 


\here is a lacuna comprising the sequel of this section ; tJie tale of 
Radubh son of Dubh and of Finn mac CumalFs daughter Aeife 
dhearg ; Tighemcu:h mcu: Conris churlishness to Patrick ; origin 
of the rath of Cas and of Conally the king of KinelconalPs two 
sonSy and of tobar Pdtraic or ^Patrick's weir ; tfie Sainfs banish- 
ment of the nine goblins into inis serine or * shrine island* in loch 
Carra ; the cause of Caeilte^ s visit to Assaroe, and how lie entered 
sidh dumha in ,Leyney of Connacht on his way ; tfie expedition of 
the king of Denmark* s sons Garbh and Eolus^ with Be dreacain 
or ^ the dragon maidy daughter of lomathj to Ireland for the pur- 

pose of the following battle"] 

Then Cascorach mac Cainchinne enquired of the tuatha dédanann : 
" have ye for me a hard, tough, and right solid shield ? " Donn 
mac Midir replied : " I have one." " Give it me," said Cascorach. 
The shield was given to him, he took the sword in his hand and 
came straight to where the she-brave watched and warded the 
invaders. "And what mayest thou be, young man?" she ques- 
tioned. " To do battle with thee am I come," said he. " Never 

24^ The Colloquy. 

until this day," said she, •* have I been matched in fight against 
one man only, or even against two ; more often has it been mine 
to inspire a hardy battalion of full strength with fear of me ; and 
as for thee, young fellow, seeing thou art come to encounter me, 
'tis positive that nowhere else in the world hast thou been able 
to find thee room." For all that, bloodily and with good en- 
deavour they set to and either on other inflicted thirty huge 
wounds such as need the leech's care. In the end however the 
young man nimbly and vehemently falling on her plied her with 
deadly strokes, and with a cut that he chanced to get at her past 
her shield's rim struck off her head. This he bore away to the 
tuatha dé danann^ and Caeilte uttered a quatrain : — 

" Cascorach of the strokes has killed the woman (no boasting fib it is) ; he 
has left her lying on the strand with the sea-foam washing up to her." 

" A great deed is that thou hast done, stripling," the Danish 
invaders cried [from their ships] : ** to have slain before our faces 
the champion that we had, and that in all extremity used to 
relieve us ! " 

Then they inaugurated Eolus the late king's brother and came 
ashore to challenge the tuatha dé danann^ who said : " we accept, 
for more and more easy we find it to give them battle." 

Early in the morning then, ere yet a man of the host was up, 
Fermaise son of Eogabhal rose and grasped * the pronged javelin ' : 
so called because on either side of it were five prongs each having 
both its edges garnished with sickle-shaped barbs, every one of 
which again would have ' cut a hair against the stream.' " My 
gods," he said, ''what manner of man is Eolus?" and he that 
accompanied him said: "the comeliest óglaech and the finest 
form of the whole world's men." " Go not thou to any distance 
from me," said Fermaise, " but continue to instruct and guide me." 

About him then Eolus took his fighting garb of battle, and his 
various weapons in his hand, and stepped upon the ship s gang- 
way. " There, young man," the companion said, " is he whom 
thou requirest me to point out to thee : with the diadem of gold 
upon his head, wearing the red shield and clad in the green suit 
of mail." With that Fermaise gave his foot a solid bearing on 
the ground, put his finger into the javelin's thong, and at the 
other delivered a cast that impinged on the shield's very rim ; it 
broke the good warrior s back in him and, after driving his heart 

The, Colloquy. 249 

as it were a great lump of blcx)d out through his mouth, the 
spear's point passed clean through him and stuck in the ship's 
bulwark. Howbeit, when the Danish fleet saw that those three 
were fallen they renounced the battle and departed to their own 
land ; then Caeilte uttered : — 

"Joyful the sidh-ic^ are; that without loss, without violence done to 
themselves, they are scaped from the host of them with the curling locks is 
not, in our judgment, conducive to their payment any more of tribute." 

Throughout all Ireland the fall of that trio was made much of, 
both the tuatha dé danann and the men of Erin esteeming it a 
wondrous event that by the aforesaid three [i.e. Caeilte, Cascorach, 
Fermaise] were perished those that every year came to harry and 
to spoil them. 

Caeilte asked now : " where is the seer Eoghan ?" who answered : 
" here ! " " Procure me knowledge of and true monition concern- 
ing my life's length ; for I am but a decrepid ancient, for whom 
the latter end of his age and of his time must now be near at 
hand." Then Eoghan pronounced a quatrain : — 

" Seventeen years from this day there are for thee, O Caeilte of fair fame, 
till thou shalt fall at Tara's pool : grievous as by the king's household that 
will be accounted." 

" Success and benediction attend thee, Eoghan," Caeilte said : 
"this forecast is identical with that which my chief and lord, 
my gentle loving guardian Finn, made for me." " What length 
of life," said the others, "does Eoghan assign thee?" "Seven- 
teen years," answered Caeilte. " That will prove true," they went 
on, " for never has he asserted that one should have a given span 
but it would so happen to him ; and for very many years he 
used to tell us that by you, and with those weapons, these three 
were to fall." 

Then Caeilte said: "j/rfA-folk, it is well; by you now be my 
cure (the errand upon which I came to you) effected, for I have 
given you my healing's fee: the greatest benefit that ever was 
achieved for you 'tis I have wrought it." " True it is indeed that 
thou hast done so," they replied, " and by us a change of form 
and feature shall be brought about for thee so that again thou 
mayest enjoy vigour and full activity; and chief command of the 
tuatha dé dananris young men be thine as well." " That were a 
miserable thing," said Caeilte, '' that I should take on me a shape 

250 The Colloquy. 

of sorcery I by no means will I take another than that which my 
Maker and my Creator, He that is the Very and Glorious God, 
hath conferred on me, and which the rule of faith and devotion 
of that Tdilchenn with whom I have foregathered in Ireland doth 
assign to me." " A true warrior's and a very hero's utterance is 
that," they said, " and the thing thou sayest is good ; but in the 
matter of healing thee we crave yet a respite." " What is the 
respite's reason?" "It is three ravens which yearly come to us 
out of the north and, when the youngsters of the sidh are goaling, 
swoop on them and carry off one apiece of them," said Ilbhreac. 
There then they tarried until day was come with its full light, 
whereupon the tuatha dé danann in general proceeded to look on 
at the hurling: for every six men was given them a chess-board ; 
a backgammon-board for every five ; for every ten men a timpan, 
for every hundred a harp, and in the proportion of one to every 
nine were supplied pipes shrill and dominant 

Then they saw three ravens that out of the north came in from 
the deep sea, pitched on the g^eat tree of special properties that 
stood on the green, and there emitted three lugubrious ill-omened 
screeches. Were it a thing permitted that the dead should be 
raised out of earth, or hair snatched from the heads of men, 
those three screeches would have effected both ; as it was they 
perturbed and disordered the whole concourse. 

Cascorach took a man of the chessmen, with which he made a 
shot at one of the ravens, and the missile entered first his beak 
and then his throat, so killing him. Another of the ravens 
Fermaise aimed at and slew, while for the third one Caeilte in 
like manner did as much. Then he said : " the birds are done 
away ; now let my cure be wrought." But they of the sidh said : 
" knowest thou not, Caeilte, that for now a long time there is a 
feud fastened on the tuatha dé danann ?" " What feud is that ?" 
he asked. " It is the king of Ulidia's three sons in the. north: 
Conn, Congal and CoUa, that predatorily war on them and," said 
Ilbhreac again, "yearly come to us demanding eric for Eochaid 
Red-neck (king of Ulidia, and their grandfather) whom in the 
battle of trdgh Baile or 'Baile's strand,' i.e. Dutidalk to the 
northward, the tuatha, dé danann slew. From every sidh in Ire- 
land year by year they require a set combat of three: a combat 
of unequal event, for the three of us that are told off to it are 

The Colloquy. 251 

killed invariably, the three brethren going scot free ; and it is to 
the people of our sidh that this year it falls to fight with them." 
Now where the king of Ulidia's sons dwelt after their yearly 
marauding upon the tuatha dé danann was on benn Boirche in 
that province. 

Said one son of them: ''what sidh is it ours to attack now?" 
" Ilbhreac's sidh of Assaroe," answered the other brothers ; but 
one of them added: "in that sidh is a warrior of Finn mac 
Cumall's people, having with him two more» to whom whether 
prepared for fight or taken at disadvantage it were [under other 
circumstances] well to give a wide berth ; but should we now 
shirk this same sidh they [the tuatha dé danann] will afHrm that 
it is from unwillingness to face them on any terms that we do 
so." The three therefore for that night tarried where they were ; 
then they looked to their armature and various. edged weapons, 
and early on the morrow's mom reached Assaroe. The sidh- 
people, Caeilte with his two accompanying them, came out upon 
the green and he enquired: "are those yonder the three that 
come to assail you?" "They are they indeed," they answered ; 
and Caeilte said: "the men's bodily form and their equipment 
both are good." 

"Men, it is -well," he called to the strangers: "for how long 
now are ye in contention with the tuatha dé danannV^ "For a 
hundred years we are at it, and yearly slay three of them," they 
replied. " If ye do so then have ye three times over avenged your 
grandfather on them ; and should ye encounter here 'tis your- 
selves will fall, for it is you that have the unjust cause." " We 
will pay you a fine," put in Ilbhreac, "out of every sidh in 
Ireland : twenty ounces of gold, of silver as many, and either 
side to cry quits with the other." The brethren said: "we will 
accept that" It was delivered to them therefore, and they 

" Let my cure be wrought now," said Caeilte, " for I hold it to 
be time;" and Ilbhreac called: "where is Elcmhar's daughter, 
Bebhionn ?" " Here am I," answered the woman. " Into some 
hidden place convey Caeilte son of Ronan and procure him to be 
well tended and healed, seeing that from both tuatha dé danann 
and all Ireland he has averted spoliation and violence of out- 
lawry. Also let Cascorach make him music and minstrelsy, and 

252 The Colloquy. 

Fermaise son of Eogabal keep watch and ward for him and 
minister to his wants." 

Bebhionn (and her two sons with her) proceeded to teach na 
narm or * the house of arms/ where a rich bed in which to be 
cured was decked out for Caeilte, and a basin of white gold con- 
taining its fill of water was brought to the lady. She took to her 
a mash-tub of crystal into which she had put certain herbs ; these 
she comminuted in the water, handed the basin to Caeilte, and 
out of the same he drank a great draught \which potion and four 
that follow it act emeticalfy^ Bebhionn in answer to the patient* s 
queries very minutely reporting therapeutic progress each time^ 
and the fifth she pronounces to be the last step towards perfect 
recovery; then] the woman gave him a can of new milk and he 
drank it but, as a consequence of all that retching, was for three 
days and three nights debilitated and out of sorts. 

" In my judgment, Caeilte," said the lady, " thou hast gotten 
easement and relief" " That have I indeed," he answered, " but 
that the great disorder of my head annoys me." " * The washing 
of Flann daughter of Flidhais' shall be done for thee: the which 
being used to any head this latter is not affected by ache, nor by 
baldness, nor by defect of sight." For a space and a spell there- 
fore that remedy was applied to him. They of the sidh also 
divided themselves in three [///. * made thirds of themselves '] 
to visit and to divert him (one third being of their gentles and 
great nobles, another of their young men, and one more 
of their womankind and poets) for the time, were it long or 
short, that he should be on his bed of convalescence. All 
special fruits of the chase moreover that they secured were 
bestowed on Caeilte. 

Thus the lady and both her sons, with Cascorach and Fermaise 
son of Eogabal, drank and made merry by Caeilte when they 
heard a sound, a gush of music, draw near from the water of 
Assaroe: melody for sake of which one would have abandoned 
the whole world's various strains. They hang their harps on the 
corners of the couches and go out, which made Caeilte to wonder ; 
then he noticed and recognised that he yet lacked his spear-power 
and his full strength, and he said : " many a stern and desperate 
fight, many a warlike mélée and van of battle I have faced, and 
to say that to-day there is not in me so much strength or pith 

The Colloquy. 253 

as to go out along with all the rest ! *' and tears burst out and 
adown his cheeks. 

After having heard the music the jígJi-people that had been 
abroad returned and Caeilte sought news of them, saying : " what 
was the burst of music that we heard ?" " It was Uainebhuidhe 
out of the sidh of Dam buidhe from Cleena's Wave in the south, 
and with her the birds of the land of promise, she being minstrel 
of that entire country. Now is her turn to visit this sidh^ and 
eveiy year she takes some other one " : thus Bebhionn. By this 
time the new-comers had entered the sidh^ the birds as well 
coming in and perching on the cornices and couches of the dwell- 
ing. Thirty of them penetrated into teach na narm^ where 
Caeilte was, and there within struck up in concert. Cascorach 
handled his timpan, and to every piece that he played the birds 
sang him an accompaniment "Many's the music we have 
heard," Cascorach said : " but music so good as that, never." 

Then *the washing of Flann daughter of Flidhais'was per- 
formed for Caeilte ; and never, so long as he lived, did defect 
of sight, of hearing or of hair, afflict him, but he was scarless 
and hurt-whole. "The matter and the cause for which I 
came: to have my foot healed, let it be executed now," said 
he. " To-morrow in the morning it shall be done," the woman 

At that time she brought' to him the two tubes of Modharn's 
daughter Binn ; a she-slave sucked at one, a he-slave at the 
other, and left not in his foot unsoundness, nor ailment, nor 
clotted blood but they brought out, and he was whole. For 
three days and three nights after the cure he and his abode 

The dwellers in the sidh emerged now to the banks of Assaroe, 
laid aside their clothes, and struck out into the stream to swim. 
Caeilte said : " what ails me that I should not go swim, since my 
health is restored me?" and with that he plunged in and dis- 
ported himself in the water. This done they passed into the 
sidh again, and that night a banquetting-hall was set out for 
them. Caeilte fell to take leave of them and to render thanks 
for his restoration: "for," said he, "I am whole and perfect, 
wherefore a benison be on you " ; and he uttered : — 

"A blessing on the people of the sidh . . ." 

254 'rf^ Colloquy. 

" Verily and by our word," rejoined the denizens, " never on 
the earth's surface have we seen warrior better than thou ; we 
opine indeed that not Finn himself surpassed thee." " Alack," 
he cried, " were it Finn that ye looked on ye would give up the 
whole human race nor ever mention them ! but it is time for me 
to go, and so a benediction rest on you : the men of Erin were 
trysted to meet at Tara within a twelvemonth [which even now 
expires], and I cannot choose but go to have speech of my com- 
rade and foster-fellow Ossian son of Finn ; as well as for the 
precept laid on rtie by the Tailckenn, who commanded me to 
repair thither when all Ireland's chieftains should be gathered in 
one spot : in order to the reciting of the Fianna's great deeds of 
valour and of arms, of Finn mac Cumall's, and of Ireland's other 
good men's too, that by authors and by ollaves the whole should 
be amended and preserved to the latter times." The lady 
answered : " we have a means of help for thee." " What help is 
that?" he asked. "That we should convey to Tara for thee a 
certain mnemonic potion of nature such that never a stream, nor 
river, nor estuary, nor battle, nor single combat came in thy way 
but thou shalt have present in thy memory." Caeilte made 
answer: "that is a helpful gift of very kinsmen and of friends ; 
if then we should happen to possess aught that ye might desire, 
ye should have it of us." 

" A great favour is this that thou hast conferred on us," said 
Bebhionn : " to have averted from us them that every seventh 
year harried and raided us ; for thy behoof therefore I have a 
ribbed shirt in the which while thou art no opposition shall 
affect thee [in thy undertakings] ; a fringed mantle likewise, 
purely crimson, of wool of the land of promise from beyond, 
and its border yellow with gold: he about whom it is will be 
the chief ornament of all meetings and conventions. A boon 
most comfortable to an aged senior I have too: a fish-hook 
named aicil mac tnogha which thou couldst not set in any rapid, 
in estuary nor in river, but there it surely would capture some- 
what." "Fermaise son of Eogabal," said Caeilte, "what wilt 
thou do ?" " I will continue in this sidh until the Feast of Tara 
be held, and I carry thither all things that Bebhionn has promised 
thee." "And thou, Cascorach, what wilt thou do?" "Go with 
thee," he answered, " to acquire knowledge and right instruction 

The Colloquy. 255 

up to such time as the men of Ireland break up in Tara." They 
bade good-bye to the ^^-people and came out to cnoc an nuaill 
or 'the hill of outcry/ where the tuatha dé danann at their part- 
ing from Caeilte made g^eat nuall or ' outcry/ whence the hill's 
name from that day to this. Quoth Caeilte: ''until the Judg- 
ment come, and the world's last day, this town I will not revisit" 

They came on to eas na finghaile or ' the falls of fratricide/ 
now called 'the falls of Cronan son of Balbh': for it was seven 
brothers that once were there ; concerning the falls there was a 
falling out between them and each one killed another, so that 
from them the falls were denominated. But their father, Cronan 
son of Balbh, lived after them and ever coming hither used to 
bewail his sons ; one night his heart burst in his body, and from 
him comes eas Crónáin or ' the falls of Cronan.' 

Not long had they been there when the clouds of waning day 
fell on them ; so they moved away from the falls and by-and-by 
saw a tall man that awaited them on a tulach. They sat down 
by him and: "whence come ye?" he enquired; in answer to 
which they impart their names, their designations, and their 
story, then in their turn ask: "and who art thou thyself?" "I 
am Blathmac the stock-owner from the outskirts of Slievelugha, 
out of cúil radhairc which now men call cúil 6 bFinn or ' Cool- 
avin.' " " It is this night's entertainment that we would have of 
thee," said Caeilte. Now in all Ireland that same Sglaech most 
excelled in churlishness and grudging, he replied therefore: 
" would ye but give me a price I would yield you provant and 
have you served for the night." Caeilte questioned: "what 
price is that?" " The matter is: three pillar-stones that are hard 
by my town, and are called ' the three men's pillar-stones,' but 
we know not from whom they are so styled." " I have it for 
thee," said Caeilte, " for I remember it : — 

" It was a good warrior that was in Ireland's Fianna: Breasal's 
grandson Finn Bane, who also was of clan-Baeiscne, and he 
had three superlative daughters ; neither were there of the 
children of Baeiscne more than three as good as he: Finn 
namely, Ossian, and Oscar. To set against which excellence 
of these men Finn Bane's daughters had three perfections of 
their own : in broidering and in all other skilled handiwork they 
outdid all Ireland's women, and in the whole island were no 

2^6 The Colloquy. 

three women of finer form. Special and gorgeously-coloured 
apparel it was that men practised to take into the gathering of 
Taillte, into the great convention of Usnach, to the Feast of 
Tara ; and none cared for raiment other than such as those women 
had made. To these Finn mac Cumall said: 'girls, go not with 
any men but those on whom I and Ireland's Fianna shall bestow 
you.' Thus then they were for a season in Almhain of Leinster, 
awaiting the Chiefs word, and until three men of clan-Moma 
passing by carraig Almhaine or * the rock of Almhain ' saw the 
maidens at their embroidery north-easterly from them on the 
rock. Those three 6glaecks\ Conan and Art and Meccon their 
names were, came near and said : * yonder is a good chance to 
do a stroke of slaughter upon Finn and clan-Baeiscne, of whom 
(Finn himself and Ossian and Oscar only excepted) there are 
not three more valuable than those.' They captured the women 
and led them to this tulachy on which were Goll and his brethren. 
He asked: * whence are the she-captives brought?' *From 
Almhain,' answered she that was the eldest. * This is a where- 
withal to make peace with the Fianna,' said Goll. *By our 
word and indeed,' cried Conan, ' it is not to make peace with 
them that we have brought these women, but to kill them before 
your faces ! ' ' Our curse be on him that shall slay them,* said 
Goll : * and as for our being present at their slaughter, that will 
we not by any means.* 

"Thereupon clan-Morna, all but those six aforesaid, as one 
man departed from the hill, and the girls said [to the three that 
continued with them]: *is it to kill us ye are fain?' 'Even so,' 
Conan replied. They said : ' we will give you good conditions, 
as that every mischief and all wrong that ever ye have done to 
Finn and to the Fianna be forgiven you, and peace made be- 
tween you ; we ourselves also to be yours as wives.' On no 
account were these terms granted them however, but the three 
dealt them three cuts and took off their three heads. Here they 
were laid under earth, and lie under the three monoliths in ques- 
tion : Etaein and Aeife and Aillbhe their names were." 

" Success and benediction, Caeilte ! " the óglaech cried : " for 
myself, for my son and for my grandson that is a good item of 
knowledge ; in return for which piece of old lore ye shall e'en be 
welcome for these three nights." 

The Colloquy. 257 

They advanced therefore to lios na mban or * the liss of women' 
in Coolavin, and passed into the dwelling, where they were well 
served that night From a vat of mead that he had the óglaech 
dipped a hornful and reached it to Caeilte, saying: "thine be the 
whole vat, Caeilte ; and though 'twere for a year thou desiredst 
to stay on here thou shouldst have it" "A blessing attend thee," 
the ancient answered, " but longer than this night we will not 
tarry." **Well then," said the host, "another thing I have to 
enquire of thee: why was this liss called * of women ' ?" 

"It was nine sisters of the tuatha dé danann's women that 
hither came to meet nine warriors of the Fianna ; but they being 
come thus far the children of Morna spied them out as they 
kept their tryst, and slew them : from whom this spot has the 
name of Has na mban" There then they passed that night ; on 
the morrow they took leave and bequeathed a blessing. 

They reached cam nafinghaile or * the cairn of fratricide,' now 
called dumha na con or * the mound of wolf-dogs,' where as they 
stepped up the tulach they saw nine lovely women that with a 
queen of excellent form in their midst awaited them. A smock 
of royal silk she had next to her skin ; over that an outer tunic 
of soft silk, and around her a hooded mantle of crimson fastened 
on her breast with a golden brooch. Upon seeing Caeilte the lady 
rose and gave him three kisses ; then he asked : " maiden, who 
art thou?" She replied: "I am Echna daughter of Muiredach 
mac Finnachta, the king of Connacht's daughter that is to say." 
Now the bevy of them had a chess-board, on which they played ; 
a can of delicious mead too, which they drank, and in which 
floated a fair polished horn. Every time that a game was won 
and ended they took a draught : they caroused in fact and made 
merry. The manner of the lady was this : she had three perfec- 
tions ; for of the whole world's wise women she was one, and he 
whom she should have counselled had as the result both afflu- 
ence and consideration. "Caeilte, my soul," she said, "where 
wert thou last night?" "In the house of Blathmac the stock- 
owner, at cúil radhairc below, in Leyney of Connacht" "All 
hail to thee, 'tis thine own way thou art come ! " cried the girl. 
She took one end of the chess-board, and Caeilte the other, 
in his lap, saying: "a long time it is that I have not played 


258 The Colloquy. 

When they had now played for a while they laid the board 
from them ; they [the new-comers] looking abroad saw three 
duns near to them, and Caeilte enquired of the young woman : 
" what duns are these ?" She replied : " it was I that had them 
made." " It was a good woman that had them made," said he. 
"But Caeilte," she went on, "what minstrel is that by thee?" 
"Cascorach, minstrel of the tuatha dé danann at large, and the best 
that is in both Ireland and Scotland." " His semblance is good, 
if only his minstrelsy be such." " By our word and indeed," said 
Caeilte, "good as are his looks his minstrelsy is better." "Take 
thy timpan, oglaechl' she commanded ; he took it, played on it and 
performed sustainedly. Which being done she gave him the two 
bracelets that were on her arms, and Cascorach said : " success 
and benediction attend thee, lady, but I need them not ; neither 
shall I ever give them to one whom I could prefer to thyself: 
take them therefore and with them a blessing." 

It was the last of day then ; and they betook them to the 
nearest one of those three dunSy where they were bestowed in a 
hidden and retired apartment. Etrom son of Lugar, the young 
woman's guardian, rose and made Caeilte welcome ; she entered 
then, and in this wise they all feasted and enjoyed themselves. 
" Caeilte, my soul, 'tis well," said the girl : " why was this cairn 
called *of fraticide,' and this mound outside *of wolf-dogs'?" 
" It was Ben tnebhla or * woman of malice,' daughter of Ronan 
and a sorceress of the tuatha dé danann^ that fell in love with 
Finn mac Cumall ; but Finn said that, so long as he could 
have any other woman whatsoever in the whole world, he 
never would wed a witch. Finn's wolf-dogs being slipped came 
hither, thrice fifty in number, and the said woman breathed 
her breath on them, whereby, to spite Finn, she incarcerated 
them in this mound: hence it is named *of the wolf-dogs.'" 
"And 'the cairn of fraticide,' whence is it?" "It was Ldmh 
luath or 'swift hand,' son of Cumasc deabhtha or 'melee- 
fighter' son of Déanamh comhlainn or 'duellist,* who was of 
this country's people: and any occasions of single combat 
that might befal the kings of Ireland, as Art and Cormac and 
Cairbre [successively], he it was, and his father and grandfather 
[before him], that used to undertake them all. 

" At that time, in the Duffry, and in the duibhfidh^ and in 

The Colloquy. 259 

Slievecarbery which now is styled Shevegorey, was an Sglaech: 
Borbchú son of Trénlámhach was his name, who had a daughter : 
Niamh or * brilliance' she was called They were nine brethren 
that Lamhluath above had, every man of whom separately came 
to crave the girl of Borbchu ; and what each one used to say to 
him was : * we will kill thyself and sons all together unless thou 
^w^ us thy daughter/ What Borbchu on the other hand, for fear 
of being slain, used to tell each of them apart was: 'it will so 
turn out that she shall be thine/ 

" One day then upon this hill Lamhluath said : ' is it true, my 
brothers, that ye look for the woman whom I have solicited of 
Borbchu?' They answered: 'it is true.' Thereupon a pang of 
jealousy took him ; he rose, took his sword, and to the brother 
that was next to him dealt a stroke that killed him. But at 
sight of the fratricide those seven that remained laid their lips to 
the ground, and for grief of their brother died. They were put 
away under this cairn, and hence, lady, is ' the cairn of fratricide ' ; 
in lieu of which deed he [the doer] submitted to saint Patrick in 
Tara and said that, were the latter but so to enjoin him, he would 
ply his own sword upon himself." 

"Success and benison, Caeilte my soul," the maiden cried: 
** great knowledge and true instruction is this that thou hast left 
with us ! and now, knowest thou a defect that ails me and for 
which I cannot find relief?" " What defect is that ?" " A head- 
disorder that attacks me, and water wherewith to cool it is none 
in proximity to us ; for when I apply water to my head I get 
ease." Caeilte called : " where is Cascorach ?" " Here," answered 
he. " Go out to the well, taking with thee this holy water, and 
sprinkle it on the well ; so shall the magic veil that hangs over 
it fall away, and it will serve all men. Which well is that of 
Cormac's daughter Aillbhe ghruaidbhreac or * freckle-cheek.'" All 
this Cascorach did, and the well was revealed to every one. 
" Thy hospitality's fee to thee, lady, it is that the well serve thee 
and them of the ^country," said Caeilte; and so it did until 
between two kings that grasped the rule of Connacht fratricide 
was perpetrated: Aedh and Eoghan were their names, and by 
Aedh the latter was slain at lie an fhomorach or * the pirate's 
flagstone,' now called lie Ghnatltail or 'Gnathal's flagstone.' In 
that night too were inflicted the three greatest losses that ever 

s 2 

26o The Colloquy. 

fell on Connacht's province, as: the draining away of the falls 
that ran out of inbhear na bfear or *the inver of men/ known 
presently as *the Moy * ; the ebbing in that same night of the 
high tide which out of the main ocean outside used to ascend the 
Gaillimh or ' Galway river/ and on which [in great part] depended 
the weal of the whole province ; moreover the running dry of 
this well : of Aillbhe's." 

Caeilte resumed : " to depart must be ours to-morrow ; and 
never have I carried my head into thehouse of a woman better 
than thyself.** **A most urgent thing I would enquire of thee 
before departure, Caeilte my soul," the girl said, and he asked : 
** what thing is that ?" " Who is yon minstrel with you, and who 
his father and his mother ?" " Cascorach mac Cainchinne son of 
the tuatha dé danann's ollave, himself also an ollave, his mother 
being Bebhionn daughter of Elcmar of the brughP "An ill 
chance indeed," she cried, " that he is not son to Bodhb Derg, or 
to Angus, or to Teigue son of Nuadha ! " " What means that, 
young woman ?" asked Caeilte. " That I who never yet have 
loved any am fallen heavily, hugely, in love with him." " Not 
one of those others will in the long run prove better than he/' 
said Caeilte, " in virtue of saint Patrick's award that at the last 
he shall hold all Ireland's ollaveship ; and saving only this 
minstrel he will relegate the tuatha dé danann to * the foreheads ' 
of hills and of rocks [i.e. to their wildest steeps], unless that now 
and again thou see some poor one of them appear as transiently 
he revisits earth [i.e. the haunts of men]. And thou, Cascorach, 
what is thy mind anent this business ?" " My mind is this," he 
answered: "that of the whole world's women never have I seen 
one to please me better than this one." "What then hinders 
you that ye should not make a match of it?" asked Caeilte. 
She said : " with thy consent and by thy counsel . • . . 


" . . . . and Finn held the chase of Slievegamph, and of the 
Curlieu mountains, and of the green-banked Cdrann's broad low 
lands ; and there the gilla ran after a deer in such fashion that his 
own spear chanced into 'the hollow of his side,' and that to the 
length of a warrior's hand the strong thick shaft thereof went 
clean through him. We the three battles of the Fianna came to 
him, and for nine nights he lived on and we striving to work his 

The Colloquy. 261 

cure ; but then he died, and this green-skinned tulach was closed 

in over him : — 

Finn cectnit this quatrain. 
" ' Alas, O variously handsome Eolar, O valiant battle-loving hero, for all 
thy body's blood that is turned to clotted gore after streaming through a 
cruel wound ! * 

" Cnoc an eclats or * the hill of guidance ' too is another name 
for it," added Caeilte. "What 'guidance' [i.e. instruction or 
interpretation] was that ?" " It was Cainnelsciath or * candle- 
shield,' Le. * of the glittering shield,' a magician of Finn's people, 
that from the firmament's clouds drew omens in Finn's presence, 
and: 'yonder,' said he, 'is the spot in which by Fatha Can an n 
mac Maccon mac Macnia a bruiden will be made.' 'Verily,' 
Finn said, ' I see that,' and he uttered : — 

" * Cainnelsciath, over a bruiden three clouds of noxious property I see : to 
all of us proclaim the thing if it so please thee, for thou understandest the 
matter for which they are there. O Cainnelsciath, declare this : all that thus 
holds me in perplexity ; from thy lord hide not the case as it stands : the 
three clouds of woe which I see.' ' I see a cloud [the wizard answered], one 
clear as crystal, hang above a wide-doored bruiden ; there the chief of a band 
one day shall be when the chalk flies from shields as they are riven. A cloud 
of grey, foreboding grief, I see in the fair midst between the other two : that 
for which the ravens lust shall come of the event, when there is glint of 
weapons in their play. A crimson cloud than which blood unmixed is not 
more red I see there poised above the two : if battle there be [and so there 
will] the hue of ruby gore will prove to have portended wrathfulness [i.e. 
ferocity of fight]. That bodies must be tortured and great hosts perish in 
the early day, O king of Cli that knowest every day, the three clouds which 
I see foretell.' " 

Then they all went to Tara ; before the men of Ireland Caeilte 
and Ossian related, and Ireland's oUaves emendated all that they 

"Victory and blessings attend you, noble sirs," the men of 
Erin said: "though in all Ireland should be knowledge and 
instruction no more than that which even now ye have be- 
queathed to them, yet were it meet that they should gather 
themselves together in one place to have it." 

Then Cascorach rose and said: "Caeilte, my soul, henceforth 
it is time for me to go ; the benison that is due from every pupil 
be upon thee then." "And on thee rest the blessing due from 
every guardian that has had a charge," Caeilte answered: "for of 
all that ever I have seen thou the most dost excel in art" Dermot 

202 The Colloquy, 

the king added : " all Ireland's ollaveship I confer on thee for so 
long as I rule over her." . 

That was the hour and time in which thrice nine of the 
remnant of the Fianna that had accompanied Caeilte came out 
of the west to Tara. They took heed and were diligent to mark 
that, they now lacking their vigour, their pith and their full 
force, there was not paid them attention or regard so much as 
that one should even speak with them. Upon the hillside there- 
fore they laid their lips to the earth and there died ; under which 
tulaclis mould they were laid, and so cnoc na nanbkar or * hill of 
the nines * is that hill's name after them." 

"A miserable thing indeed is this,*' said Ossian: "that was 
the last surviving residue of the great and gallant band which 
Finn had, and ourselves." That day the ancient men were 
grieved and wretched after those nines, seeing that of the Fianna's 
three battalions there had endured none but Caeilte and Ossian 
and the aforesaid. The men of Ireland all were hushed, not a 
man of them speaking to his fellow, so greatly oppressed they 
were with the sorrow which the seniors testified after their Fianna 
and own very people. I'hen Ossian uttered : — 

'Ms there here one that could tell (and were he unlearned, of a low estate) 
the place in which Finn's cuach was left all by itself in cromghliftn^ ke. 
* Crumlin ' or * the crooked glen '?** 

"Except this day," said Caeilte, "never was there one in 
which I found it not easy to speak with thee, Ossian ;" and he 
said : — 

" Here is one that could declare where it was that Finn turned right-hand- 
wise; the spot which is in the green glen nought but a magic veil hath 


Ossian cecinit 

"Is there here one that could tell (and were he unlearned, of a low estate) 

who 'twas that set the head of Currach coin upon the hill over the strand of 

Bodamar ?" 

" It was thou that didst take off his head," said Caeilte, " and 

thy father that first wounded him, and myself that closed in the 

tulach over him " : — 

Caeilte dixit 
"After which [i.e. the beheading] I brought the head to the hill that stands 
over the strand of Bodamar ; there it is from that time to this, and lies at 
rest within the hill." 

Ossian said : " remembrest thou too, my soul, who it was that 

The Colloquy. 263 

over Ballachgowran of a morning made a cast at Goll mac 

M oma ?" " It was I," Caeilte answered, " that sent the spear at 

him ; it struck off the golden helmet on his head, and of his 

flesh carried away from him a fragment as thick as its own shaft 

[i.e. ploughed such a furrow in his head}" " And proudly taken 

by him that was/' said Ossian : '' great as the hurt was, again he 

donned the helmet and took his weapons in his hand, and to 

his brethren called out that he felt no whit ashamed." Then 

Ossian uttered: — 

''Is there here one that could tell (and so on) . . ." 

The king of Ireland enquired of them now: " who was it that 
in the battle of Gowra slew Cairbre Lifechair ?" " Ossian's son, 
Oscar, it was that killed him," said Caeilte. " The exact truth of 
the matter it is that's best, my soul," put in Ossian. " Who then 
was it that destroyed him ?" asked Dermot " Orlámh or ' gold- 
hand,' king of the Potharta in the south : an óglaech whom I had, 
and my father before me." "And Oscar," pursued the king: 
" who slew him ?'* " It was a single cast by Cormac's son 
Cairbre Lifechair that did it." "And mac Lughach: who killed 
him in the same battle ?" " Bresal mac Eirge, son of the Norse- 
Gaels' king from out of the Hebrides yonder away, that was 
captain of the king of Ireland's household." 

Now this night was the last one of Tara's Feast, and they 
passed it in banquetting and pleasure ; on the morrow the whole 
host rose. 

Then the men of Erin broke up to their various provinces, each 
into his own borders and ancestral seat. The king of Ireland 
likewise drew off, and came to lie na ndruadh or * flagstone of the 
magicians' north-easterly from Tara, Bebhionn daughter of 
Alasc mac Angus, of the king of Scotland, was his wife ; to 
whom he spoke, and what he said was this : " I desire to proceed 
upon the grand visitation of Ireland, and my wish is that thou be 
in Tara ministering to the ancients so that from the men of 
Erin neither disgrace nor reproach reach me." The queen 
answered: " as thou shalt ordain and themselves shall pronounce, 
even so shall their pleasure be executed." Together then the king 
and queen entered into the house in which the seniors, Ossian 
and Caeilte, were, and the king told them this. But the manner 
of Ossian was that he was the most modest man in Ireland, and 

264 The Colloquy. 

he said : " not so shall it be done, noble sir and king : but be thy 
wife along with thyself; and as for us, commit us to the chief 
steward." "Well then," quoth the king, "have the steward 
brought to us." Himself and his wife were produced, and the 
king said to them : " here is the fashion in which I prescribe to 
you to feed the ancients here: that [on my account] ye have 
seven score kine put into a fenced grass field, the same nightly 
to be milked for them ; rations also for ten hundred to be pro- 
vided them by the men of Erin ; that they have liquor and milk 
in Tara too, be bathed every other day, and in their beds have a 
layer of fresh rushes strewed. This too: that the last of their 
liquor be not drunk out when they shall have the new ready to 
their hand. And thou, steward," the king ended, " hast seven 
sons : the which, and thyself along with them, I will have killed 
should the seniors want any item of all this." 

Ossian said : ^^lige in abhaic or *the dwarfs lair* in Tara, to 
make trial of which all Ireland used to resort thither, was not 
more wonderful than ourselves commended thus to Maelmutrir 
son of Dubhán^ Tara's chief steward, and to Beoan the stock- 
owner's daughter Cuamait, his wife." 

" What was that — the dwarf — Ossian, my soul ?" questioned the 
king. " A treaS(Ure-trove that Conn of the Hundred Battles got : 
in whose stature were three of Conn's spans, and who was the 
best chess and backgammon hand in Ireland ; granted that all 
ailments in the world were concentrated in one individual, he 
had but to lay his hand on him and he would relieve him ; and 
though all Ireland had stood arrayed against each other on the 
battle-field he would have made peace between them. Now a 
stone that was here in Tara," Ossian went on, " it was upon that 
his bed was, the properties of which bed were extraordinary: the 
biggest one of the men of Ireland got his exact fit in the manni- 
kin's bed, while in the same the tiniest babe that could be found 
had but his own suflScient room. This then, and the lia fail or 
* stone of destiny ' that was there, were the two wonders of Tara." 

"What that was out of the way attached to the lia fáilV' 
Dermot enquired ; to which Ossian made answer: "any one of 
all Ireland on whom an ex-parte imputation rested was set upon 
that stone : then if the truth were in him he would turn pink and 
white [lit. * it was whiteness and pinkness that it (the stone) made 

Death of Eochaid. 265 

for him *] ; but if otherwise, it was a black spot that in some con- 
spicuous place would appear on him. Farther: when Ireland's 
monarch stepped on to it the stone would cry out under him, 
and her three arch-waves boom in answer: as the wave of Cleena, 
the wave of Ballintoy, and the wave of loch Rury ; when a 
provincial king went on it the flag would rumble under him ; 
when a barren woman trod it, it was a dew of dusky blood that 
broke out on it ; when one that would bear children tried it, it 
was * a nursing drop ' [i.e. a semblance of milk] that it sweated." 
Dermot son of Cerbhall sought now : " and who was it that lifted 
that flag, or that carried it away out of Ireland ?" " It was an 

ógléjtech of a great spirit that ruled over /' 

• ••• •■•• 

[catera cUsunt] 

This is the death of Eochaid son of Mairid. 

A good king that ruled over Munster: Mairid son of Cairid, 
He had two sons : Eockaid^na Ribk. Guaire's daughter Eibhliu^ 
from the brugh of the mac 6g^ 'tis she was wife to Mairid. Upon 
his son, on Eochaid, she pitched her fancy (now from this 
Eibhliu it \s that sliabh Eibhlinne or ' Eibhliu's mountain ' is 
named). For a long time she solicited the young man, and at 
last pressed him hard that privily he should fly with her. Ribh 
told his brother that rather than disgrace himself he ought to 
carry off the woman, and that he would himself quit the country 
with him. 

With Eibhliu therefore Eochaid eloped, and Ribh went with 
them. Ten hundred was their complement of men, and the 
manner of their travel was with bringing of flocks and herds. 
Their soothsayers told them that not in the one place it was 
fated for them to effect a landed settlement, and they parted 
accordingly at bealach da Hag or * the way of two flagstones.' 

Ribh went westwards to *the country of Midirs game with 
the mac óg^ otherwise magh finn or * the white plain.' Here 
Midir, who previously had killed their horses, came to them 
leading by the halter one that bore a pack-saddle. On him they 

266 Death of EocJiaid^ 

loaded all their stuff, and he conveyed it to Airbthitis plain: the 
place where loch Ree is to-day. At this point the garran lay down 
with them, then stood up again, and in that spot burst forth a 
spring which in the event overwhelmed and drowned them all : 
the same is loch Ri or * loch Ree.' 

Eochaid on the other hand went on till he reached the brugh 
of the macóg. A tall man came to them and would have turned 
them out of the country, but they went not for him. That night 
the man killed all their horses. On the morrow he returned to 
them and said: '* unless ye quit the land on which ye stand, to- 
night I will slay all your people." Eochaid answered : " great mis- 
chief hast thou wrought us already, to have killed all our horses ; 
without which we could not, even though we desired it, depart." 
Angus [or the mac 6gy for he it was] gave them a great horse, 
and on him they clap all their gear ; he enjoined them moreover 
not to unload the horse [on the way], nor [at any time] to let 
him make a halt, lest where he stood there happened that which 
should be to them an occasion of their death. Upon a Sunday 
then in * mid-harvest month,* or September, they set out and so 
to liathmuine or * grey bramble-bush ' in Ulidia, where the whole 
of them gather to the horse and with one motion relieve him of 
all their impedimenta ; but never a one of them turned his head 
back along the way by which they were come. The animal 
stood with them therefore, and here too there was a spring well 
Over this Eochaid had a house made, with a flap to cover the 
well and a woman to tend it continually ; and against Muiredach 
son of Fiacha he in the sequel made good his claim to the half-* 
rule of Ulidia 

But once on a time that the woman had not shut down the 
well, linn muim or * the bramble-bush water* rose and covered 
liathmuine above ; there Eochaid was drowned with his children, 
all but Liban and Conaing, and Curnan the half-wk from whom 
are the dál mBuain and the d(U Sailne \ which latter indeed 
ever and anon had foretold to them how that the loch would 
overrun them, saying: — 

** Come ye, come ye, grasp edged tools and hew you vessels out : with a 
grey flood linn muine shall whelm liathmuine ; in the broad water Aire and 
Conaing shall be drowned ; swim east and west and up and down through 
every sea 1 " 

Death of Eockaid. 267 

And this was true for him ; for by the space of three hundred 
years Liban ranged the sea, with her lap-dog in form of an 
otter close after her whichever way she went and never parting 
from her at all. Herself it was that to Beoan son of Innle when 
he caught her in his nets told all her fortunes, on which occasion 
she chanted these words which follow : — 

'* Beneath loch nEch€u:h I have my dwelling now: high above me is the 
once solid surface which troops of horses trod ; under ships' rounded hulls is 
my appointed place ; the wave it is my roof, the shore my wall . . ." 

This then was what most contributed to disperse the Ulidians 
throughout Ireland : the eruption of loch nEchach or * loch Neagh* 
namely. After her baptism another name was conferred on Liban : 
muirghein or 'sea-birth/ that is to say [a compound meaning] 
gein mara or * birth of the sea.' As for one half of her 'tis a 
salmon it was, the other being human ; and for her it was that 
the sennachie sang these quatrains: — 

'* A sea-birth that is a birth fraught with special virtues the daughter of 
haughty Eochaidh is . . •" 

Liban and Airiu were Eochaidh Finn's two daughters ; Airiu 
wife of Curnan was drowned there, and he died of grief for her: 
hence cam Cumáin or ' Cuman's cairn ' has its name, and that 
is • the invention of Curnan.' 

Now for a full year Liban had been in her bower beneath the 
loch and her lap-dog with her there, God preserving her the 
while from the waters of loch Neagh, when she said one day: 
** O Lord, happy the one that should be in the salmon's shape, 
scouring the sea and swimming even as they do 1 " Then she 
was turned into salmon's form, and her lap-dog into an otter's ; 
so that whatever the course she took, and into what airt soever, 
he was immediately in her wake under the waters and the seas. 
In which wise she continued from the time of Mairid's son 
Eochaid to that of Comgall of Bennachar or * Bangor.' 

From tigh Dabheoc the same Comgall despatched Beoan mac 
Innle to have speech of Gregory and to bring back canonical 
order and rule. As Beoan's people therefore navigated the sea, 
from under the currach they heard a chant as of angels and 
Beoan questioned : " whence this song ?" " It is I that make it," 
answered Liban. " Who art thou ?" Beoan pursued. " Liban 
daughter of Mairid's son Eochaid am L" "And what causes 

268 Death of Eochaid. 

thee to be in this fashion ?" She said : " for now three hundred 
years I am beneath the sea ; and the purpose for which I am 
come is to tell thee that I will go westwards to meet thee at 
innbher Ollorba. On this very day twelvemonth then, and for 
sake of the saints of Dalaradia, be my tryst kept by you ; all 
which tell thou to Comgall and to the other saints as well." 
"That will I not unless its price be paid me," said Beoan. 
** What is the price thou askest ?" " That I have thee buried 
in mine own monastery." "Verily thou shalt have that," she 
replied. Beoan subsequently returned from the eastward, and 
to Comgall with the rest of the clergy told all the story of the 
muirgheilt or mermaid. 

Thus the year ran out ; [at the place appointed on the coast] 
the nets were made ready, and she was taken in that of Fergus 
from Meelick. She was brought to land, her form and her 
whole description being wonderful. Numbers came to view her 
and she in a vessel with water round about her. 

Like every one else the chief of the úi Chonaing was there, 
and he wore a crimson mantle. This she eyed persistently, and 
the warrior as it were enquired of her, saying : " if it be that thy 
mind is bent on the mantle it shall be thine." "Nay," she 
answered : " by no means is it to that end I observe it, but because 
on the day in which he was drowned it was a crimson mantle that 
Eochaid wore. Nevertheless," she added, "in guerdon of this 
thine offer to me good luck be upon thee and on * the man of 
thy place ' [i.e. thy successor] ; neither in any convention where 
he shall find himself be it ever needful to ask which is thy repre- 

There came up a great swart laech^ uncouth of aspect, and 
^ killed her lap-dog. To him and to his ^sf^^e she bequeathed that 

never should they triumph over any but ignoblest foes nor, till 
such time as they should fast at her shrine, avail to take ven- 
geance for ills done to them. Hereupon the óglaech made genu- 
flexion to her. 

Now arose a contest for her possession : Comgall saying that, 
since it was in his country she was caught, she was his ; Fergus 
maintaining that, since it was into his net she had chanced, she 
must be his ; while Beoan again affirmed her to be his property, 
for that so she herself had promised to him. Accordingly those 

Death of Fergtis. 269 

saints fasted all, in order that concerning this their dispute God 
should deliver judgment as between them. 

To a certain man there an angel said: **from ^camAirenn^ or 
* Ainu's cairn ' will come two stags ; upon these yoke ye the 
chariot [in which she is], and whatever be the direction in which 
they carry her let them be. On the morrow the deer came as 
the angel had proclaimed, and bore her away to tech Dabheoc. 
Then the clergy gave her her choice: whether to be baptised and 
then and there presently go to Heaven ; or to be continued in 
life for the same length of time again [300 yearsj and so to go 
to Heaven after life prolonged beyond many ages. The election 
she made was to depart then. Comgall baptised her, and the 
name that he conferred on her was Muirghein or * sea-birth,' as 
before; or perhaps Muirgheilt, i.e. * sea-prodigy,' that is to say 
geilt in mhara or * the prodigy of the sea.* Fuinche too was 
another name for her. 

In that place wonders and miracles are wrought through her, 
and there she (after the manner of every other sainted virgin) 
enjoys honour and reverence even as God hath bestowed them 
on her in Heaven. 


The king of the Lepracanes' journey to Emania, and how 
the death of Fergus mac Léide king of Ultdia was 

brought about. 

A righteous king, a maintainer of truth and a giver of just 
judgments, that had dominion over the happy clanna Rudh- 
raidhe or 'children of Rury ': Fergus son of Léide son of Rury ; 
and these are they that were his heroes and men of war: Eirgenn, 
Amergen iurthunnach or * the ravager,' Conna Buie son of Iliach, 
and Dubthach son of Lughaid. 

By that king a great feast was made in Emania, and it was 
ready, fit to be consumed, all set in order and well furnished 
forth ; that very season and hour being the same also at which 

270 Death of Fergtis. 

the king of the Lupra and Lupracdn held a banquet : whose 
name was lubhddn son of Abhdaein, 

These are the names of the men of war that were lubhdan's : 
Conan son of Ruiched, Gerrchu son of Gairid, and Righbeg son 
of Robeg ; Luigin son of Luiged, Glunan son of Gabam, Febal 
son of Feomin, and Cinnbeg son of Gnuman ; together with 
Buan's son Brigbeg, Liran son of Luan, and Mether son of 
Mintan. To them was brought the strong man of the region 
of the Lupra and Lupracan, whose prize feat that he used to 
perform was the hewing down of a thistle at a single stroke ; 
whereas it was a twelve men's effort of the rest of them to give 
him singly a wrestling-fall. To them was brought the king's 
presumptive successor: Beg that was son of Beg; the king's 
poet and man of art likewise : Esirt son of Beg son of Buaidghen, 
with the other notables of the land of the Lupra and Lupracan. 

By these now that banquet-house was ordered according to 
qualities and to precedence: at one side lubhdan was placed, 
having next to him on either hand Bébhó his wife, and his chief 
poet ; at the other side of the hall and facing lubhdan sat Beg 
son of Beg, with the notables and chiefs ; the king's strong man 
too: Glomhar son of Glomradh's son Glas, stood beside the door- 
post of the house. Now were the spigots drawn from the vats, 
the colour of those vats being a dusky red after the tint of red 
yew. Their carvers stood up to carve for them and their cup- 
bearers to pour; and old ale, sleep-compelling, delicious, was 
served out to the throng so that on one side as on the other of 
the hall they were elevated and made huge noise of mirth. 

At last lubhdan, that was their king and the head of all 
their counsel, having in his hand the com breac or * variegated 
horn ' stood up ; on the other hand, over against lubhdan and to 
do him honour, stood up Beg son of Beg, Then the king, by 
this time affably inclining to converse, enquired of them saying : 
"have ye ever seen a king that was better than riiyself ?" and 
they answered : " we have not" " Have ye ever seen a strong 
man better than my strong man?" "We have not." "Horses 
or men of battle have ye ever seen better than they which 
to-night are in this house ?" " By our words," they made answer, 
" we never have." " I too," lubhdan went on, " wage my word 
that it were a hard task forcibly to take out of this house to-night 

DecUh of Fergus. 271 

either captives or hostages : so surpassing are its heroes and men 
of battle, so many its lusty companions and men of might, so 
great the number of its fierce and haughty ones that are stuff out 
of which kings might fittingly be made." 

All which when he had heard, the king's chief poet Esirt burst 
out a-laughing ; whereupon lubhdan asked : " Esirt, what moved 
thee to that laugh?" Said the poet: " I wot of a province that 
is in Ireland, and one man of them would lift hostages and 
captives from all four battalions that here ye muster of the 
Luchra." "Lay the poet by the heels," cried the kirjg, "that 
vengeance be taken of him for his bragging speech 1 " So it was 
done ; but Esirt said : " lubhdan, this thy seizure of me will bear 
thee evil fruit ; for in requital of the arrest thou shalt thyself be 
for five years captive in Emania, whence thou shalt not escape 
without leaving behind thee the rarest thing of all thy wealth 
and treasures. By reason of this seizure Cobthach Cas also^ son 
of Munster's king, shall fall, and the king of Leinster's son 
Eochaid ; whilst I myself must go to the house of Fergus son of 
Leide and in his goblet be set a-floating till I be all but drowned." 
Which said he indited : — 

*' A great feast there is to-night in Emania, but a feast evil to women, and 
to men an evil one : jovial as be the crowds that now enjoy it, the end will 
be melancholy dismal gloom . . . 

"An evil arrest is this thou hast made of me, O king," Esirt 
went on: "but grant me now a three-days* and three-nights* 
respite that I may travel to Emania and to the house of Leide's 
son Fergus, to the end that if there I find some evident token by 
which thou shalt recognise truth to be in me I may bring the 
same hither ; or if not, then do to me that thou wilt'* 

Then Esirt, his bonds being loosed, rose and next to his white 
skin put on a smooth and glossy shirt of delicate silk. Over 
that he donned his gold-broidered tunic and his scarlet cloak, all 
fringed and beautiful, in soft folds flowing: the scarlet being of 
the land of the Finn, and the fringe of pale gold in varied pattern. 
Betwixt his feet and the earth he set his two dainty shoes of the 
white bronze, overlaid with ornament of gold. After assumption 
of his white bronze poet's wand and his silken hood he set out, 
choosing the shortest way and the straightest course, nor are we 


272 Death of Fergus. 

told how he fared until he came to Emania and at the gate of 
the place shook his poet's rod. 

The gate-keeper when at the sound he was come forth beheld 
there a tiny man, extraordinary comely and of a most gallant 
carriage, in respect of whom the close-cropped grass of the green 
was so long that it reached to his knee, aye, and to the thick of 
his thigh. At sight of him wonder fell upon the gate-keeper ; 
and he entered into the house, where to Fergus and to the com- 
pany he declared the matter. All enquired whether he [Esirt] 
were less than Aedh : this Aedh being Ulster's poet, and a dwarf 
that could stand on full-sized men's hands ; but the gate-keeper 
said: "upon Aedh's palm he, by my word, would have room 
enough." Hereupon the guests with pealing laughter desired to 
see him: each one deeming the time to be all too long till he 
should view Esirt and, after seeing him, speak with him. Then 
upon all sides both men and women had free access to him, but 
Esirt cried : " huge men that ye are, let not your infected breaths 
so closely play upon me ! but suffer yon small man that is the 
least of you to approach me ; who, little though he be among 
you, would yet in the land where I dwell be accounted of great 
stature." Into the great house therefore, and he standing upon 
his palm, the poet Aedh bore him off. 

Fergus, when he had sought of him tidings who he might be, 
was answered : " I am Esirt son of Beg son of Buaidghen : chief 
poet, bard and rhymer, of the Luchra and Lupracan." The 
assembly were just then in actual enjoyment of the feast, and a 
cup-bearer came to Fergus : " %\\^ to the little man that is come 
to me," said the king. Esirt replied : " neither of your meat will 
I eat, nor of your liquor will I drink." " By our word," quoth 
Fergus, "seeing thou art a flippant and a mocking fellow, it 
were but right to drop thee into the beaker, where at all points 
round about thou shouldst impartially quaff the liquor." At 
which hearing the cup-bearer closed his hand on Esirt and popped 
him into the goblet, in which upon the surface of the liquor that 
it contained he floated round, and : " ye poets of Ulster," he 
vociferated, "much desirable knowledge and instruction there 
is which, upon my conscience, ye sorely need to have of me, yet 
ye suffer me to be drowned 1 " 

Death of Fergus. 273 

With fair satin napkins of great virtue and with special silken 
fabrics he being now plucked out was cleaned spick and span, 
and Fergus enquired : " of what impediment spakest thou a while 
since as hindering thee that thou shouldst not share our meat ?" 
" That will I e'en tell thee,** the little man replied : " but let me 
not incur thy displeasure." "Thou shalt not," promised the 
king: "only resolve me the whole impediment" Then Esirt 
said [and Fergus answered him] : — 

E. " With poet's sharp-set words never be angered, Fergus ; thy stem 
hard utterance restrain, nor against me take unjustifiable action" /^ "O 
wee man of the seizure ........" 

E. " Judgments lucid and truthful, if they be those to which thou dost pro- 
voke me: then I pronounce that thou triflest with thy steward's wife, while 
thine own foster-son ogles thy queen. Women fair-haired and accomplished, 
rough kings of the ordinary kind [i.e. mere chieftains] : how excellent soever 
be the form of these, 'tis not on them the former let their humour dwell [i.e. 
when a genuine king comes in their way]" F, " Esirt, thou art in truth no 
child, but an approved man of veracity ; O gentle one, devoid of reproach, 
no wrath of Fergus shalt thou know 1" 

The king went on: "my share of the matter, by my word, is 
true ; for the steward s wife is indeed my pastime, and all the 
rest as well therefore I the more readily take to be a verity," 
Then said Esirt: "now will I partake of thy meat, for thou hast 
confessed the evil ; do it then no more." Here the poet waxing 
cheerful and of good courage went on : " upon my own lord I 
have made a poem which, were it your pleasure, I would declaim 
to you." Fergus answered : " we would esteem it sweet to hear 
it," and Esirt began : — 

"A king victorious, and renowned and pleasant, is lubhdan son of Abh- 
daein : king Qimagh Li/e^ king of magh faithlenn. His is a voice clear and 
sweet as copper's resonance, like the blood-coloured rowan-berry is his 
cheek ; his eye is bland as it were a stream of mead, his colour that of the 
swan or of the river's foam. Strong he is in his yellow-haired host, in beauty 
and in cattle he is rich ; and to brave men he brings death when he sets 
himself in motion. A man that loves the chase, active, a generous feast- 
giver ; he is head of a bridle-wearing army, he is tall, proud and imperious. 
•His is a solid squadron of grand headlong horses, of bridled horses rushing 
torrent-like ; heads with smooth adornment of golden locks are on the 
warriors of the Luchra. All the men are comely, the women all light- 
haired ; over that land's noble multitude lubhdan of truthful utterance pre- 
sides. There the fingers grasp silver horns» deep notes of the timpan are 
heard ; and how great soever be the love that women are reputed to bear thcQ 
[Fergus], 'tis surpassed by the desire that they feel for lubhdan." 

2 74 Death o/ Fergus, 

The lay ended Ulster equipped him with abundance of good 
things, till each heap of these as they lay there equalled their 
tall men's stature. " This on my conscience," quoth Esirt, " is 
indeed a response that is worthy of right men ; nevertheless take 
away those treasures : of which I conceive that I have no need, 
seeing that in my lord's following is no man but possesses sub- 
stance sufficient." Ulster said however: "we pledge our words 
that, as we never would have taken back aught though we had 
given thee our very wives and our kine, even so neither will we 
take again that we now have given thee." " Then divide ye the 
gifts, bards and professors of Ulster ! " Esirt cried : " two thirds 
take for yourselves, and the other bestow on Ulster's horseboys 
and jesters." 

So to the end of three days and three nights Esirt was in 
Emania, and he took his leave of Fergus and of Ulster's nobles. 
" I will e'en go with thee," said Ulster's poet and man of science, 
Aedh : that used to lie in their good warriors' bosoms, yet by 
Esirt's side was a giant ; for this latter could stand upon Aedh's 
palm. Esirt said: "'tis not I that will bid thee come: for were I 
to invite thee, and kindness to be shewn thee in the sequel, thou 
wouldst say 'twas but what [by implication] had been promised 
thee ; whereas if such be not held out to thee and thou yet 
receive the same thou wilt be grateful." 

Out of Emania the pair of poets now went their way and, 
Aedh's step being the longer, he said: "Esirt thou art a poor 
walker." This one then took such a fit of running that he was 
an arrow's flight in front of Aedh, who said again : " between 
those two extremes lies the golden mean." "On my word," 
retorted Esirt, "that is the one category in which since I am 
among you I have heard mention made of the golden mean ! " 
On they went then till they gained tráigh na dtréinfhear or 
'strand of the strong nrien' in Ulster: "and what must we do 
now?" Aedh asked here. "Travel the sea over her depths," 
said the other. To Aedh objecting: "never shall I come safe 
out of that [trial]," Esirt made answer: "seeing that I compassed 
the task 'twere strange that thou shouldst fail." Then Aedh 
vented a strain and Esirt answered him: — 

A, " In the vast sea how shall I contrive ? O generous Esirt, the wind 
will bear me down to the merciless wave [on which] though I mount upwards 

Death of Fergus. 275 

yet [none the less] shall I perish in the end*' £*. ^ To fetch thee fair lubhdan's 
horse will come, get thee upon him and cross the stammering sea : an excel- 
lent horse truly and of surpassing colour, a king's valued treasure, good on 
sea as upon land. A beautiful horse that will carry thee away : sit on him 
nor be troubled ; go, trust thyself to him." 

They had been no long time there when something they 
marked which, swiftly careering, came towards them over the . 
billows' crests. " Upon itself be the evil that it brings," Aedh 
cried, and to Esirt asking: "what seest thou?" answered: "a 
russet-clad hare I see." But Esirt said: "not so — rather is it 
lubhdan's horse that comes to fetch thee." Of which horse the 
fashion was this: two fierce flashing eyes he had, an exquisite 
pure crimson mane, with four green legs and a long tail that 
floated in wavy curls. His [general] colour "was that of prime 
artificers* gold-work, and a gold-encrusted bridle he bore withaL 
Esirt bestriding him said: "come up beside me, Aedh;" but 
again the latter objected : " nay, poet, to do thee alone a skiffs 
office his capacity is all too scant." " Aedh, cease from fault- 
finding: for ponderous as may be the wisdom that is in thee, yet 
will he carry us both." 

They both being now mounted on the horse traversed the 
combing seas, the mighty main's expanse and Ocean's great pro- 
found, until in the end they, undrowned and without mishap, 
reached magh faiMenn^ and there the Luchra people were before 
them in assembly. " Esirt approaches,"" they cried, " and a giant 
bears him company ! " Then lubhdan went to meet Esirt, and 
gave him a kiss : " but poet," said he, " wherefore bringest thou 
this giant to destroy 4is?" "No giant is he, but Ulster's poet 
and man of science, and the king's dwarf. In the land whence 
he comes he is the least, so that in their great men's bosoms he 
lies down and, as it were an infant, stands on the flat of their 
hands. For all which he is yet such that before him ye would 
do well to be careful of yourselves." They further asking: "what 
is his name?" were told that he was called *poet Aedh.' "Alack 
man," they cried to Esirt," thy giant is huge indeed ! " 

Next, Esirt addressing lubhdan said : " on thee, lubhdan, I 
lay bonds which true warriors may not brook that in thine owti 
person thou go to view the region out of which we come, and 
that of the * lord's porridge ' which for the king of Ulster is made 
to- night, thou be the first man to make triaL" 

T 2 

276 Death of Fergus. 

Then lubhdan, in grief and faint of spirit, proceeded to confer 
with Bebo his wife : he told her how that by Esirt he was laid 
under bonds, and bade her bear him company. " That will I," 
she said: "but in that Esirt was cast into prison thou didst 
unjustly." So they mounted lubhdan's golden horse and that 
same night made good their way to Emania, where they entered 
unperceived into the place. " lubhdan," said Bebo, " search the 
town for the porridge spoken of by Esirt, and let us depart again 
before the people of the place shall rise." 

They gained the inside of the palace and there found Emania's 
great cauldron, having in it the remnant of the * people's porridge.' 
lubhdan drew near, but might by no means reach it from the 
ground. " Get thee upon thy horse," said Bebo, " and from the 
horse upon the cauldron's rim." This he did but, the porridge 
being too far down and his arm too short, could not touch the 
shank of the silver ladle that was in the cauldron ; whereupon he 
making a downward effort his foot slipped, and up to his very 
navel he fell into the cauldron ; in which as though all existing 
iron gyves had been upon him he now found himself fettered 
and tethered both hand and foot. " Long thou tarriest, dark 
man ! " Bebo cried to him (for lubhdan was thus : hair he 
had that was jet-black and curled, his skin being whiter than 
foam of wave and his cheeks redder than the forest's scarlet 
berry: whereas — saving him only — all the Luchra people had 
hair that was ringletted indeed, but of a fair and yellow hue ; 
hence then he was styled 'dark man'). Bebo sang now, lubhdan 
answering her: — 

She. " O daric man, and O dark man ! dire is the strait in which thou art : 
to-day it is that the white horse must be saddled, for the sea is angry and the 
tide at flood" He, " O fair-haired woman, and O woman with fair hair ! 
gyves hold me captive in a viscous mass nor, until gold be given for my 
ransom., shall I ever be dismissed. O Bebo, and O Bebo 1 mom is at 
hand, thou therefore flee away : fast in the doughy remnanf sticks my leg, 
if here thou stay thou art but foolish, O Bebo ! " She, " Rash word it was, 
'twas a rash word, that in thy house thou utteredst: that but by thine 
own good pleasure none under the sun might hold thee fast, O man!" He. 
Rash was the word, the word was rash, that in my house I uttered : a year 
and a day I must be now, and neither man nor woman of my people see!" 

" Bebo," cried lubhdan, " get thee away, and to the Luchra- 
land take back that horse," " Never say it," she answered : " of 

Death of Fergus. 277 

a surety I will not depart until I see what turn things shall take 
for thee." 

The dwellers in the town when they were now risen anon 
lighted on lubhdan in the porridge cauldron, out of which he 
could not frame to escape ; in which plight when they saw him 
the people sent up a mighty roar of laughter, then picked lubh- 
dan out of the cauldron and carried him off to Fergus. " My 
conscience," said the king, " this is not the tiny man that was 
here before: seeing that, whereas the former little fellow had 
fair hair, this one hath a black thatch. What art thou at all, 
mannikin, and out of what region come?" lubhdan made 
answer: "I am of the Luchra-folk, over the which it is I that 
am king ; this woman that ye see by me is my wife, and queen 
over the Luchra: her name is Bebo, and I have never told a lie." 
" Let him be taken out," cried Fergus, " and put with the common 
rabble of the household — guard him well ! " lubhdan was led 
out accordingly ....... 

. said lubhdan : "but if it may please thee to show 
me some favour, suffer me no longer to be among yonder loons, 
for the great men's breaths do all infect me ; and my word I pledge 
that till by Ulster and by thee it be licensed I will never leave 
you." Fergus said: "could I but think that, thou shouldst no 
more be with the common varlets." lubhdan's reply was: " never 
have I overstepped, nor ever will transgress, my plighted word." 

Then he was conducted into a fair and privy chamber that 
Fergus had, where one that was a servant of trust to the king 
was set apart to minister to him. " An excellent retreat indeed 
is this," he said, " yet is my own retreat more excellent than it " ; 
and he made a lay : — 

" In the land that lies away north I have a retreat, the ceiling of which is 
of the red gold, and the floor all of silver. Of the white bronze its lintel is, 
and its threshold of copper ; of light-yellow bird-plumage is the thatch on it 
I ween. Golden are its candelabra, holding candles of rich light and gemmed 
over with rare stones, in the fair midst of the house. Save myself only and 
my queen, none that belongs to it feels sorrow now ; a retinue is there that 
ages not, that wears wavy yellow tresses. There every man is a chess-player, 
good company is there that knows no stint: against man or woman that 
seeks to enter it the retreat is never closed." 

Fer dédh or * man of smoke' the fire-servant, as in lubhdan's 
presence he kindled a fire, threw upon it a woodbine that twined 

2/8 Death of Fergus. 

round a tree, together with somewhat of all other kinds of timber, 

and this led lubhdan to say: "bum not the king of trees, for he 

ought not to be burnt ; and wouldst thou, Ferdedh, but act by 

my counsel, then neither by sea nor by land shouldst thou ever 

be in danger." Here he sang a lay: — 

" O man that for Fergus of the feasts dost kindle fire, whether afloat or 
ashore never bum the king of woods. Monarch of Innisfail's forests the 
woodbine is, whom none may hold captive ; no feeble sovereign's effort is it to 
hug all tough trees in his embrace. The pliant woodbine if thou bum, wailings 
for misfortune will abound ; dire extremity at weapons' points or drowning in 
great waves will come after. Bum not the precious apple-tree of spreading 
and low-sweeping bough : tree ever decked in bloom of white, against whose 
fair head all men put forth the hand. The surly blackthorn is a wanderer, 
and a wood that the artificer bums not ; throughout his body, though it be 
scanty, birds in their flocks warble. The noble willow bum not, a tree 
sacred to poems ; within his bloom bees are a-sucking, all love the little 
cage. The graceful tree with the berries, the wizards' tree, the rowan, bum ; 
but spare the limber tree : bum not the slender hazel Dark is the colour of 
the ash : timber that makes the wheels to go ; rods he furnishes for horse- 
men's hands, and his form turns battle into flight. Tenterhook among woods 
the spiteful briar is, by all means bum him that is so keen and green ; he 
cuts, he flays the foot, and him that would advance he forcibly drags back- 
ward. Fiercest heat-giver of all timber is green oak, from him none may 
escape unhurt : by partiality for him the head is set on aching and by his 
acrid embers the eye is made sore. Alder, very battle-witch of all woods, 
tree that is hottest in the fight — undoubtingly bum at thy discretion both the 
alder and the whitethorn. Holly, bum it green ; holly, bum it dry : of all trees 
whatsoever the critically best is holly. Elder that hath tough bark, tree that 
in truth hurts sore : him that furnishes horses to the armies from the sidh 
bum so that he be charred. The birch as well, if he be laid low, promises 
abiding fortune : bum up most sure- and certainly the stalks that bear the 
constant pods. Suffer, if it so please thee, the msset aspen to come headlong 
down : bum, be it late or early, the tree with the palsied branch. Patriarch 
of long-lasting woods is the yew, sacred to feasts as is well known : of him 
now build ye dark-red vats of goodly size. Ferdedh, thou faithful one, 
wouldst thou but do my behest : to thy soul as to thy body, O man, 'twould 
work advantage ! " 

After this manner then, and free of all supervision, lubhdan 
abode in the town ; while to them of Ulster it was recreation of 
mind and body to look at him and to listen to his words . 
• •• • • • • ••« 

Again, lubhdan went to the house of a certain soldier of the 
king's soldiers that chanced to fit on him new brogues that he 
had : discoursing as he did so, and complaining, of their soles that 
were too thin. lubhdan laughed. The king asked : '' lubhdan, 

Death of Fergus. 279 

why laughst thou thus ?" ** Yon fellow it is that provokes my 
laughter, complaining of his brogues while for his own life he 
makes no moan. Yet, thin as be those brogues, he never will 
wear them out." Which was true for lubhdan, seeing that before 
night that man and another one of the king's people fought and 
killed each other ....... 

• ••• • • • • • • 

Yet another day the household disputed of all manner of 
things, how they would do this or that, but never said : " if it so 
please God." Then lubhdan laughed and uttered a lay: — 

^ Man talks but God sheweth the event ; to men all things are but con- 
fusion, they must leave them as God knoweth them to be. All that which 
Thou, Monarch of the elements, hast ordained must be right ; He, the King 
of kings, knows all that I crave of thee, Fergus. No man's life, however bold 
he be, is more than the twinkling of an eye ; were he a king's son he knoweth 
not whether it be truth that he utters of the future." 

lubhdan now tarried in Emania until such time as the Luchra- 
folk, being seven battalions strong, came to Emania's green in 
quest of him ; and of these no single one did, whether in height or 
in bulk, exceed another. Then to Fergus and to Ulster's nobles 
that came out to confer with them they said : " bring us our king 
that we may redeem him, and we will pay for him a good 
ransom." Fergus asked: "what ransom?*' "Every year, and 
that without ploughing, without sowing, we will cover this vast 
plain with a mass of com." " I will not give up lubhdan," said 
the king. "To-night we will do thee a mischief." "What mis- 
chief?" asked the king. "All Ulster's calves we will admit to 
their dams, so that by morning time there shall not in the whole 
province be found the measure of one babe's allowance of milk." 
" So much ye will have gained," said Fergus, " but not lubhdan." 

This damage accordingly they wrought that night ; then at 
morn returned to the green of Macha and, with promise of 
making good all that they had spoiled, again required lubhdan. 
Fergus refusing them however they said : " this night we will do 
another deed of vengeance : we will defile the wells, the rapids, 
and the river-mouths of the whole province." But the king 
answered: "that is but a puny mischief " (whence the old saw 
' dirt in a well ') " and ye shall not have lubhdan." 

They having done this came again to Emania on the third day 
and demanded lubhdan. Fergus said: "I will not give him." 

2So Death of Fergus, 

" A further vetig^eance we will execute upon thee." " What 
vengeance is that?" "To-night we will bum the millbeams 
and the kilns of the province." " But ye will not get lubhdan," 
quoth the king. 

Away they went and did as they had threatened, then on 
the fourth day repaired to Emania and clamoured for lubhdan. 
Said Fergus: "I will not deliver him." "We will execute 
vengeance on thee." "What vengeance?" ** We will snip the 
ears off all the corn that is in the province." " Neither so shall 
ye have lubhdan." This they did, then returned to Emania on 
the fifth day and asked for lubhdan. Fergus said: "I will not 
yield him." 

" Yet another vengeance we will take of thee." " What ven- 
geance?" "Your women's hair and your men's we will e'en 
shave to such purpose that they shall for ever be covered with 
reproach and shame." Then Fergus cried : " if ye do that, by 
my word I will slay lubhdan !" But here this latter said: "that 
is not the right thing at all ; rather let me be enlarged, that in 
person I may speak with them and bid them first of all to repair 
such mischief as they have wrought, and then be gone." 

At sight of lubhdan they then, as taking for granted that the 
license accorded him must needs be in order to his departure 
with them, sent up a mighty shout of triumph. lubhdan said 
however: "my trusty people, get you gone now, for I am not 
suffered to go with you ; all that which ye have spoiled make 
good also, neither spoil anything more for, if ye do so, I must 
die." They thereupon, all gloomy and dejected, went away ; a 
man of them making this ditty : — 

" A raid upon thee we proclaim this night, O Fergus owner of many strong 
places ! from thy standing com we will snip the ears, whereby thy tables will 
not benefit. In this matter we have already burnt your kilns, your millbeams 
too we have all consumed ; your calves we have most accurately and universally 
admitted to their dams. Your men's hair we will crop, and all locks of your 
young women : to your land it shall be a disfigurement, and such shall be 
our mischiefs consummation. White be thy horse till time of war, thou king 
of Ulster and of warriors stout ! but crimsoned be his trappings when he is 
in the battle's press. May no heat inordinate assail thee, nor inward flux 
e'er seize thee, nor eye-distemper reach thee during all thy life : but Fergus, 
not for love of thee ! Were it not lubhdan here whom Fergus holds at his 
discretion, the manner of our effecting our depredations would have been 
such that the disgrace incurred by the latter would have shown his refusal 
to be an evil one." 

Death of Fergus, 281 

"And now get you hence," said lubhdan : " for Esirt has pro- 
phesied of me that before I shall have abandoned here the 
choicest one of all my precious things I may not return." 

So till a year's end all but a little he dwelt in Emania, and 
then said to Fergus : " of all my treasures choose thee now a 
single one, for so thou mayest. My precious things are good 
too"; and in a lay he proceeded to cast them up; — 


Take my spear, O take my spear, thou, Fergus, that hast enemies in 
number 1 in battle 'tis a match for an hundred, and a king that holds it 
will have fortune among hostile points. Take my shield, O take my shield, 
a good price it is for me, Fergus ! be it stripling or be it grey -beard, behind 
his shelter none may wounded be. My sword, and O my sword I in respect 
of a battle-sword there is not in a prince's hand throughout all Innisfail a 
more excellent thing of price. Take my cloak, O take my cloak, the which 
if thou take it will be ever new ! my mantle is good, Fergus, and for thy son 
and grandson will endure. My shirt, and O my shirt ! whoe'er he be that in 
time to come may be within its weft — my grandsire's father's wife, her hands 
they were that spun it. Take my belt, O take my belt I gold and silver 
appertain to a knowledge of it; sickness will not lay hold on him that is 
encircled by it, nor on skin encompassed by my girdle. My helmet, O my 
helmet, no prize there is more admirable ! no man that on his scalp shall 
assume it will ever be obnoxious to reproach of baldness. Take my tunic, 
O my tunic take, well-iitting silken garment ! the which though for an 
hundred years it were on one, yet were its crimson none the worse. My 
cauldron, O my cauldron, a special rare thing for its handy use ! though they 
were stones that should go into my cauldron, yet would it turn them out 
meat befitting princes. My vat, and O my vat ! as compared with other 
vats of the best, by any that shall bathe in him life's stage is traversed thrice. 
Take my mace, O take my mace, no better treasure canst thou choose ! in 
time of war, in sharp set-to, nine heads besides thine own it will protect. 
Take my horse-rod, O my horse-rod take : rod of the yellow horse so fair 
to see ! let but the whole world's women look at thee [with that rod in thy 
hand and] in thee will centre all their hottest love. My timpan, O my timpan 
endowed with string-sweetness, from the red sea's borders ! within its wires 
resides minstrelsy sufficing to delight all women of the universe. Whosoe'er 
should in the matter of tuning up my timpan be suddenly put to the test, if 
never hitherto he had been a man of art yet would the instrument of itself 
perform the minstrel's function. Ah how melodious is its martial strain, and 
its low cadence ah how sweet I all of itself too how it plays, without a finger 
on a single string of all its strings. My shears, and O my shears, that Barran's 
smith did make ! of them that take it into their hands every man will secure 
a sweetheart. My needle, O my needle, that is made of the eanach^s gold ! 
. . . . Of my swine two porkers take ! they will last thee till thy dying 
day ; every night they may be killed, yet within the watch will live again. 
My halter, O my halter I whoe'er should be on booty bent, though 'twerie 
a black cow he put into it incontinently she would become a white oneé 

282 Death of Fergus. 

Take my shoes, my shoes O take, brogues of the white bronze, of virtue 
marvellous I alike they travel land and sea, happy the king whose choice 
shall fall on these ! " 

** Fergus," said lubhdan, " from among them all choose thee 
now one precious thing, and let me go." 

But this was now the season and the hour when from his 
adventure poet Aedh returned ; and him the professors presently 
examined touching lubhdan's house, his household, and the 
region of the Luchra. Concerning all which Aedh forthwith 
began to tell them, inditing a lay: — 

^ A wondrous enterprise it was that took me away from you, our poets, to 
a populous fairy palace with a great company of princes and with men 
minute. Twelve doors there are to that house of roomy beds and [window] 
lighted sides ; 'tis of vast marble [blocks], and in every doorway doors of 
gold. Of red, of yellow and green, of azure and of blue its bedclothes are ; 
its authority is of ancient date: warriors' cooking-places it includes, and 
baths. Smooth are its terraces of the egg-shells of I math ; pillars there are 
of crystal, columns of silver and of copper too. Silk and satin, silk and satin, 

bridles ; its authority is of ancient date : warriors' 

cooking-places it includes, and chess-boards. Reciting of romances, of the 
Fian-lore, was there every day ; singing of poems, instrumental music, the 
mellow blast of horns, and concerted minstrelsy. A noble king he is: lubh- 
dan son of Abhdaein, of the yellow horse ; he is one whose form undergoes 
no change, and who needs not to strive after wisdom. Women are there, that 
in pure pellucid loch disport themselves: satin their raiment is, and with 
each one of them a chain of gold. As for the king's men-at-arms, that wear 
long tresses, hair ringletted and glossy : men of the mould ordinary with the 
Luchra can stand upon those soldiers' palms. Bebo — lubhdan's blooming 
queen — an object of desire — never is the white-skinned beauty without three 
hundred women in her train. Bebo's women — 'tis little they chatter of evil 
or of arrogance ; their bodies are pure white, and their locks reach to their 
ankles. The king's chief poet, Esirt son of Beg son of Buaidghen : his eye 
is blue and gentle, and less than a doubled fist that man of poems is. The 
poet's wife — to all things good she was inclined ; a lovely woman and a 
wonderful : she could sleep in my rounded glove. The king's cupbearer — in 
the banquet-hall a trusty man and true : well I loved Feror that could lie 
within my sleeve. The king's strong man — Glomhar son of Glomradh's son 
Glas, stem doer of doughty deeds : he could fell a thistle at a sweep. Of 
those the king's confidentials, seventeen ' swans * [i.e. pretty girls] lay in my 
bosom ; four men of them in my belt and, all unknown to me, among my 
beard would be another. They (both fighting men and emdites of that HdK) 
would say to me, and the public acclamation ever was : * enormous Aedh, O 
very giant ! ' Such, O Leide's son of forests vast, such is my adventure : of 
a verity there is a wondrous thing befallen me." 

Of those matters then — of all lubhdan's treasures — Fei^s 

Death of Fergus. 283 

made choice, and his choice was lubhdan's shoes. This latter 
therefore, leaving them his blessing and taking theirs, bade 
Fergus and the nobles of Ulster farewell (Ulster grieving for 
his departure) and with him the story henceforth has no more 
to do. 

As regards Fergus however, this is why he picked out lubh- 
dan's shoes: he with a young man of his people walking of a day 
hard by Lochrury, they entered into the loch to bathe ; and the 
monster that dwelt in the loch — ^the sinech of Lochrury — ^^vas 
aware of them. Then she shaking herself till the whole loch 
was in great and tempestuous commotion reared herself on high 
as it had been a solid arc hideous to behold, so that in extent she 
equalled the rainbow of the air. They both marking her towards 
them swam for the shore, she in pursuit with mighty strokes that 
in bursting deluge sent the water spouting from her sides. Fei^us 
suffered his attendant to gain the land before himself, whereby 
the monster's breath impinging on the king turned him into a 
crooked and distorted squint-eyed being, with his mouth twisted 
round to his very poll. But he knew not that he was so ; neither 
dared any enquire of him what it might be that had wrought 
this [change] in him, nor venture to leave a mirror in the one 
house with him. 

The young man however told all the matter to his wife and 
the woman showed it to Fergus's wife, to the queen. When 
therefore anent precedence in use of the bath-stone there was 
a falling-out between the king and queen, the king giving her the 
fist broke a tooth in her head ; whereupon anger seized the queen, 
and she said : " to avenge thyself on the sinech of Lochrury that 
dragged thy mouth round to thy poll would become thee better 
than to win bloodless victories of women." Then to Fergus she 
brought a mirror, and he looking upon his image said : " the 
woman's words are true for her, and to this complexion it is 
indeed the sinech of Lochrury that hath brought me." And 
hence it was that before all lubhdan's other precious wares 
Fergus had taken his shoes. 

In their ships and in their galleys the whole province of Ulster, 
accompanying Fergus, now gathered together to Lochrury. They 
entering the loch gained its centre ; the monster rose and shook 
herself in such fashion that of all the vessels she made little bits 

284 Death of Fergus^ 

and, as are the withered twigs beneath horses' feet, so were they 
severally comminuted and, or ever they could reach the strand, 
all swamped. 

Fergus said to Ulster: "bide ye here and sit you all down, 
that ye may witness how I and the monster shall deal together." 
Then he being shod with lubhdan's shoes leaped into the loch, 
erect and brilliant and brave, making for the monster. At sound 
of the hero's approach she bared her teeth as does a wolf-dog 
threatened with a club ; her eyes blazed like two great torches 
kindled, suddenly she put forth her sharp claw's jagged array, 
bowed her neck with the curve of an arch and clenched her 
glittering tusks, effacing [i.e. throwing back] her ears hideously, 
till her whole semblance was one of gloomy cruel fury. Alas 
for any in this world that should be fated to do battle with 
that monster : huge-headed long-fanged portent that she was ! 
The fearsome and colossal creature's form was this: a crest and 
mane she had of coarse hair, a mouth that yawned, deep- 
sunken eyes ; on either side thrice fifty flippers, each armed with 
as many claws recurved ; a body impregnable. Thrice fifty feet 
her extended altitude ; round as an apple she was in contraction, 
but in bulk equalled some notable hill in its rough garb of 

When the king sighted her he charged, instant, impetuous, and 
as he went he made this rosg or * rhapsody ' : — 

" The evil is upon me that was presaged . , ." 

Then both of them, seeking the loch's middle part, so flogged 
it that the salmon of varied hue leaped and flung themselves out 
upon the shore because that in the water they found no resting- 
place, for the white bottom-sand was churned up to the surface. 
Now was the loch whiter than new milk, anon all turned to 
crimson froth of blood. At last the beast, in figure like some royal oak, rose on the loch and before Fergus fled. The 
hero-king pressing her plied her with blows so stalwart and so 
deadly that she died ; and with the sword that was in his hand, 
with the caladcholgy best blade that was then in Ireland, he 
hewed her all in pieces. To the loch's port where Ulster sat he 
brought her heart ; but if he did, his own wounds were as many 
[as hers] and than his skin no sieve could be more full of holes. 
To such pitch truly the beast had given him the tooth, that he 

Death of Fergtis. 285 

brought up his very heart's red blood and hardly might make 
utterance, but groaned aloud. 

As for Ulster, they took no pleasure to view the fight, but 
said the while that were it upon land the king and the beast 
had striven they would have succoured him, and that right 
valiantly. Then Fergus made a lay: — 

" My soul this night is full of sadness, my body mangled cruelly ; red 
Lochrur/s beast hath pushed sore through my heart. lubhdan's shoes have 
brought me through undrowned ; with sheeny spear and with the caladcholg 
I have fought a hardy fight. Upon \\i^sinech I have avenged my deformity — 
a signal victory this. Man ! I had rather death should snatch me than to 
live on misshapen. Great Eochaid's daughter Ailinn it is that to mortal 
combat's lists compelled me ; and 'tis I assuredly that have ^ood cause to 
sorrow for the shape imposed on me by lubhdan." J f ; ^ 

He went on : " Ulster ! I have gotten my death ; but lay ye 
by and preserve this sword, until of Ulidia there come after me 
one that shall be a fitting lord for him ; whose name also shall be 
Fergus : Ros Rua's son Fergus. " 

Then lamentably and in tears Ulster stood over Fergus ; poet 
Aedh too, the king's bard, came and standing over him mourned 
for Fergus with this quatrain : — 

" By you now be dug Fergus's grave, the great monarch's, grave of 
Leide's son ; calamity most dire it is that by a foolish petty woman's words 
he is done to death 1 " 

Answering whom Fergus said : — 

" By you be laid up this SWord wherewith * the iron-death * is wrought ; 
here after me shall arise one with the name of Fergus. By you be this sword 
treasured, that none other take it from you ; my share of the matter for all 
time shall be this : that men shall rehearse the story of the sword." 

So Fergus's soul parted from his body: his grave was dug, his 
name written in the Ogham, his lamentation-ceremony all per- 
formed ; and from the monumental stones [«A^rfA] piled by 
Ulster this name of Uladh [Ulster] had its origin. 

Thus far the Death of Fergus and the Luchra-péople's doings. 


286 Birth of Cortnac. 

This that follows is the Birth of Cormac grandson 

of Conn. 

Art son of Conn of the Hundred Battles went to fight the 
battle of magk ntucramha against Maccon. Westwards over 
Shannon he marched with the general hosting of all Ireland, and 
the night before the battle he passed as a guest in the house of 
Olc Acha the smith. That night they had unpleasant converse 
and ill speeches : Olc Acha saying to Art that for his giving 
battle to Maccon there existed no reason more convenient or 
fitter than there was for his engaging Olioll Olom's son Eoghan ; 
that as against the former his cause moreover was bad, for that 
Lughaid [surnamed Maccon] had certain rightful claims upon 
him. "What amount of children leavest thou?" the smith 
enquired of Art, who answered : " I know not of any but one son 
only." " That is too little," the smith said : " this night wed thou 
my daughter, for it is prophesied for me that from me some great 
dignity must spring." A thing which was verified, for a great 
dignity Cormac son of Art son of Conn of the Hundred Battles 

That night the king mated with Ulc Acha's daughter Etan, 
and then it was that Cormac was conceived. Art told her that 
she would bear a son and that he should be king over Ireland. 
Then too it was that he imparted to her all secret instructions 
for the boy's behoof, and declared to her that on the morrow he 
would be slain. [In the morning] he bade her farewell, saying: 
" take thy son to his friend of Connacht, to Lughna in Corann, 
there to be fostered"; and as he had himself premised the king 
afterwards was killed in the battle. 

Accordingly Etan proved to be with child, and [in due time] 
it occurred to her to repair to Lughna's house in order that in 
the same she should bring forth the offspring which she carried. 
But so soon as she arrived within that country her pains took 
her, she came down out of her chariot and gave birth to a son. 
Her maid went off and pulled twigs, which she strewed under 

Birth of Cormac. 287 

her: hsnoit fiodnacha or 'twigs/ 'brushwood/ i.e. 'Feenagh/ in 
Corann. At the boy's birth a report as of thunder boomed 
through the air, and Lughna upon hearing the sound uttered : — 

" Noise — thunder — birth of king . . ." 

He went on : " even so : the true prince's son, Cormac son of 
Art, it is that is born now ; let us go to seek him, for to me it is 
committed to keep him until he shall be fit to rule the land." 

After her child-bed Etan, having first enjoined her maid to 
mind the boy till they should be able to proceed, slept. The 
maid too slept however, and a she-wolf coming to them ravished 
the child to the spot in which were her whelps : to the stone cave 
that is hard by craeibhech or ' locus ramosus,' i.e. ' Creevagh,' at 
the achail in that which to-day is sidk Chonnaic or ' Cormac's 
sidk^ By -and -by the woman started out of her sleep and, 
because she found not her son, cried out lamentably. Here 
Lughna came up to her, and asked them what they were about. 
The woman told him all : that it was towards him she had 
been on her way, for that to him it was intrusted to foster the . 
child. Then Lughna conveyed her to his dwelling and gave 
out that, whosoever he should be that procured knowledge of 
and a clue to the infant, he would grant his own prayer [i.e. 
would let him name his own reward]. 

Now one Grec mac Arodh as he ranged the country of a day 
came by chance over a cave, in front of which he saw wolf-cubs 
gambol and among them a little urchin on his hands [i.e. on all- 
fours]. "Just so," he said, and went off to Lughna ; then bound 
him to his terms if he should get him the king's son. To this 
Lughna assented, and hence were given to Grec the lands on 
which the Grecraighe or * Grec-posterity ' are established: the 
guerdon of Grec's finding of Cormac This done Lughna and 
he took their way to the cave, and by them boy and cubs both 
were taken out of it ; at which point Lughna prognosticating for 
him uttered : — 

" Conn's victorious representative I hail . . J* 

In the sequel that same boy was nurtured by Lughna, and 
none dared to provoke him against his father's enemies [i.e. 
against Lughaid Maccon and his faction]. The lad verily was 
*a pasture of the eyes' of many: for form namely and for 
vesture, for propriety and for proportion, for ready speech, for 

L '-' " •• 

^ I 

288 Birth of Cor mac. 

gaiety, -for comeliness, for pride, for fire, for strength and for high 
spirit ; and the name that was conferred on him by Lughna was 
corbmac, just as Art had left that it should be given to him. 

Once upon a time Cormac and Lughna's sons : Ochomon and 
Nathnach, were at play. He struck one of them and: "oh dear," 
cried the patient, "there has stricken me a fellow whose clan 
and race are unknown, except that he is a gentleman without 
a father!" whereupon Cormac in great dejection sought out 
Lughna and recited to him how he had been reviled. " That is 
not true," his guardian said : " thou art the very prince's son, son 
of Art son of Conn of the Hundred Battles, and for thee it stands 
foretold to hold thy father's helm ; nor so long as he [that now 
sits there] lords it in Tara will corn, or milk, or mast, or sea-fruit 
[i.e. yield of fish] or seasons come aright. " Come we therefore," 
said Cormac, "that we may visit, and bide our time in, our 
father's house in Tara." " Let us even go," Lughna answered. 

Then the two went their way : Lughna, and Cormac accom- 
panied with his wolves, he having also a body-guard of kerne 
which from the time of Eochaid Airemh to that present had 
been in Corann ; for it was they that slew Eochaid : too heavy 
a rent namely that had been imposed on them. They are the 
firchúl Bregh of to-day, [and are there] because that by way of 
comradeship they came with Cormac thither. 

So they held on till they gained Tara, where welcome was 
accorded them and Cormac received on the footing of a dcdta 
[i.e. protege and pupil]. At which time there was in Tara a she- 
hospitaller: Bennaidh, whose roaming sheep came and ate up 
the queen's crop of woad. The case was referred to Lughaid 
[Maccon the king] for judgment, and his award was : the queen 
to have the sheep in lieu of the woad. "Nay," Cormac said: 
" the shearing of the sheep is a sufficient offset to the cropping of 
the woad ; for both the one and the other will grow again." " That 
i.5 the true judgment," all exclaimed: "a very prince's son it is 
that has pronounced it!" The one half of that house in which 
the false judgment had been given slid down the steep declivity 
[on which it stood], and will so abide for ever: whence claenfherta 
Temrach or * the sloping mounds of Tara.' 

Maccon's rule in sooth was not good: the men of Ireland 
warned him off therefore, and bestowed it on Cormac. After 

Birth of Corntac. 289 

which, and so long as Cormac lived, the world was full of all 
good things. His wolves also Cormac continued to have with 
him ; and the reason of that great esteem which Cormac bore to 
wolves was that wolves had fostered him. 

By him was effected the renovation and decoration of Tara as 
before him she never had been, in respect of both houses and 
ramparts, and of all other edifices : both laech-howsQS and ladies' 
bowers, and ' houses of the earth * [i.e. underground storehouses, 
cellars, etcj Well off too Ireland was during that king's time: 
for the multiplicity of her fish the river waters might not be 
forded, nor her woods traversed easily for the exuberance of 
their mast ; while for the quantity of their honey which by 
reason of his righteous rule was vouchsafed from heaven the 
travelling of her plain countries was no ready matter. The 
numbers of her wild creatures of the chase too were such as, 
though they should have had nor tilth nor reaping, would have 
comforted her people with meat in sufficiency. 

So Cormac continued to reign in Tara, and by him in due 
time was constructed the noblest building that ever was erected 
there; nor though he was opposed by Ulster was he ever divorced 
from his kingdom, but in the house of Spelán the hospitaller died 
when in his throat there stuck a salmon's bone which had been 
kneaded up among the wheat given to him [in the form of bread]. 
Such was the cause of his death. 

Now what Cormac bequeathed to his confidentials, and en- 
joined on them, was this: not to bury him in the brugh^ because 
it was not one and the same god that he and they that were 
sepulchred therein adored ; but he prescribed his burial in Ros- 
naree, with his face set eastwards to the rising of the sun. 





290 Fiachna's Sídh. 

Laeghaire mac Crimtkann^s visit to the fairy realm of 
Magh meall or * the Plains of Pleasured 

Once upon a time, Crimthann Cas being their king then, 
Connacht were in convention by énloch or * bird-loch ' in magh 
nAei or *the plain of Aei/ On the night in question they 
remained assembled and, when on the morrow they were risen 
betimes, saw a man that came through the mist and towards 
them : a mantle of five folds he wore, and in his hand were two 
five-barbed darts ; a gold-rimmed shield was slung on him, at his 
belt was a gold-hilted sword, and golden-yellow hair streamed 
behind him. 

" Give welcome to him that comes to you ! " cried Laegftaire 
líbhán son of Crimthann, the noblest young man that was of 
Connacht namely, and : " a welcome to the warrior whom we 
know not ! " he said to the stranger, who made answer : " I thank 
you all." " Wherefore comest thou ? " Laeghaire enquired, and 
the other said : " to crave a force of men." " Whence art thou ?" 
He replied : " of the men of the sidlie I am ; Fiachna mac Retach is 
my name, and the matter is that my wife is taken from my head 
[i.e. pillow], SáVs son Eochaid having carried her away. He then 
in a pitched battle being slain by me, she is gone to a brother's 
son of his: to DalbJis son GoU, that rules the fort of magh mealL 
Seven battles I have given him, but all are gone against me ; for 
this very day yet another one is declared by us, and to solicit 
help it is that I am come. To every man moreover that shall 
desire it I will in lieu of his coming with me give a fair sum of 
gold, and of silver the same." With that he turned and went 
from them. 

" Not to aid yonder man were a shameful thing," Laeghaire 
said, and together with fifty fighting men stepped out after him 
who, still preceding them, dived down into the loch, and they 
followed him. There they saw before them a strong place, and a 
company embattled that stood face to face with them. He, 
Fiachna mac Retach, went on yet in front of them and to his 

FiachncCs Sídh. 291 

own hold, where they saw two companies. " Verily it is well," 
said Laeghaire: " I to the number of fifty warriors will engage 
with the chief on the other side." ** I will answer thee," said Goll 
son of Dolbh. 

In their two fifties therefore they laid on each other, and [in 
the end], after the fall of Goll and of all his fifty, Laeghaire with 
his escaped alive. Then *the battle broke before them,' and 
they made general slaughter of their enemies. 

" Where is the woman ? " Laeghaire asked ; and Fiachna said : 
"within in the dan of Magh meall, surrounded by a force." 
" Bide ye here while I and my fifty go," Laeghaire said, and pro- 
ceeded to the fort. They set about taking it, and he called [to 
the defenders]: "but little 'twill profit you [to hold out]: your 
king is fallen, your nobles are slain ; suffer then this woman to 
come forth, and in return your safety shall be accorded you." 
So it was done and, as she came out, she pronounced [that 
which is known as] ^ the lament of Eochaid atnlabar's a^Mghter.^ 

Laeghaire returned with her and laid her hand in Fiachna's ; 
that night Fiachna's daughter Der gréine or * maid of the sun ' 
was coupled with Laeghaire, arid with his fifty laechs fifty other 
women, and to a year's end they abode with them. Laeghaire 
said then : " let us go seek tidings of our land." " If ye would 
come back," Fiachna enjoined, " take with you horses, but by no 
means dismount from off them." 

So it was done : they went their way and came upon a general 
assembly in which Connacht, as at the year expired, mourned for 
the aforesaid warrior band, whom now all at once they per- 
ceived above them [i.e. on higher ground]. Connacht sprang to 
meet them, but Laeghaire cried : " approach us not [to touch us] : 
'tis to bid you farewell that we are here ! " " Leave me not ! " 
Crimthann, his father, said : " Connacht's royal power be thine ; 
their silver and their gold, their horses with their bridles, and 
their noble women be at thy discretion, only leave me not ! " 

Bjit Laeghaire turned from them and so entered again into the 
sídh^ where with Fiachna he exercises joint kingly rule ; nor is he 
as yet come out of it 


U 2 

292 The Gil la dec air. 

This is the pursuit of the Gilla decair and his Horse. 

A noble king and an excellent that once on a time held royal 
rule and supreme sway over Ireland : Cormac son of Art son of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles ; in which stout sovereign's day 
Ireland was disciplined and prosperous, peaceable and happy, 
rich, full of all good things. Nor was her being so matter of 
wonderment : seeing that in exercise of hospitality this Cormac 
was a hospitaller, in poesy a poet, and in martial worthiness a 
very king. 

In the same sturdy king's time too Finn son of Cumall son of 
Baeiscne's grandson Trenmor was in the chief command over 
Ireland's Fianna, that is to say: Cormac was monarch of all ; after 
whom came the provincial kings [five in number] and the royal 
captains, Finn [chief of these latter] being in order the seventh 
king that men reckon to have at that period been in Ireland. 

Copious were the profits and wage of Finn and of the Fianna : 
in every tuath a townland, in each townland a cartron of land, 
and in every house there a wolf-dog whelp or else a beagle pup 
[at nurse] from All-hallows to Beltane, with-many another privi- 
lege not recounted here. But great prerogatives as were these, 
greater yet by far the pains and hardships which in return lay on 
Finn and the Fianna his followers: to fend off and to repel from 
Ireland strangers and over-sea aggressors, thievery and enter- 
prise of outlaws, with all other villany ; so that, as here is set 
forth, 'twas much of wearing work the Fianna had to safeguard 

One day then that Finn and the Fianna (they being in 
Leinster's spacious Almhain) enjoyed All-hallowtide's exhilara- 
ting and cheerily resounding banquet, Finn — who had their 
gentles and chief nobles close beside him — enquired of them 
whether now they held it time to go hunt and to pursue the 
chase ; for thus it was that he and they used to pass the year: 
from Beltane to All-hallows in hunting and in deeds of venery; 
from All-hallows to Beltane again in the prescribed keeping of 
all Ireland* 

The Gil/a dec air. 293 

At all events among them then it was resolved to proceed 
with the ordering of that noble chase, and the ground to which 
for that purpose they repaired was Munster's two proud pro- 
vinces [Thomond and Desmond namely]. From Almhain 
accordingly they set out by the nearest paths, and on till they 
reached iuath a mBuilc^ the centre of Fircall, and the Brosna 
river in Slievebloom ; so to Eibhliu's twelve mountains or * Slieve- 
phelim,' to cnáinhchoill or *Cleghile ' of macRaighne^ and to drom 
collchoille which now is called Aim cliach or 'Knockany/ 

The hunt was thrown out and extended by them along the 
borders of that forest which to-day men name magh Breogain ; 
through blind and trackless places, and the broken lands ; over 
fair and open level confines, and Desmond's lofty hills called at 
this day luachair Degfiaid or * Slievelogher ' ; in among Slieve- 
crot, beautiful and pleasant, slidbh na muds bonny smooth tulachs^ 
the even banks of azure-streaming Suir ; athwart the green-grassed 
verdure-coated plain of Femen, and Eithne's high-lying rugged 
Decies, on to dark-wooded Ballachgowran. 

Brief: nor wood nor plain nor hill-country in both provinces 
of Munster but a chief of nine hunted there and plied woodcraft, 
deploying and distributing the chase. Finn sat on his hunting- 
mound, and certain of the good warriors tarried by him : his 
own son Ossian, Ossian's son Oscar ; Goll mac Morna, Art * of 
the great strokes * mac Morna ; Dathchain's son Sciathbreac, 
bearer of Finn's shield; the three Balbhs: three sons of the 'caird 
of Berra ' ; Caeilte son of Ronan, Duibhne's grandson Dermot of 
the glittering teeth, Liathan Iuath or * the swift * from luachair 
Deghaid\ Conan mac Morna, the Fianna's man of scurrilous and 
abusive speech, with Finn Bane son of Bresal ; and in the forests 
and waste places round about him Finn and his accompanying 
Fianna deemed it sweet to hear the hounds' cry and their baying, 
the striplings* hurried call, the strong men's noise and din, whis- 
tling and blithe shouting of the Fianna. 

Of such as were with him Finn enquired who would go watch 
and ward the hill [on the side of which the mound his seat was 
made], and Finn Bane son of Baeiscne's grandson Bresal an- 
swered the chief captain that he would go to it. Over his broad 
weapons he extended a good warrior's ready hand, betook him 
to the hill-top, and fell to look abroad on all sides : westwards 



294 The Gilla decair. 

and eastwards, to the southward and to the north. Nor had he 
been long so when out of the eastern airt directly he marked 
draw towards him a ruíBan> virile indeed but right ugly, a 
creature devilish and misshapen, a grumpy-looking and ill- 
favoured loon, equipped as thus: a shield that on the convex 
was black and loathly coloured, gloomy, hung on his back's 
expanse ; upon his dingy grimy left thigh all distorted was a 
wide-grooved and clean-striking sword; stuck up at his shoulder 
he had two long javelins, broad in the head, which for a length 
of time before had not been raised in fight or mélée ; over his 
armature and harness was thrown a mantle of a limp texture, 
while every limb of him was blacker than smith s coal quenched 
in cold ice-water. A sulky cross-built horse was there, gaunt in 
the carcase, with skimpy grey hind-quarters shambling upon 
weedy legs, and wearing a rude iron halter. This beast his 
master towed behind him, and how he failed to drag the head 
from the neck and this from the attenuated body was a wonder: 
such plucks he communicated to the clumsy iron halter, and 
sought thus to knock some travel or progression out of his nag. 
But a marvel greater yet than this it was that the latter missed 
of wrenching from his owner's corporal barrel the thick long 
arms appertaining to the big man : such the sudden stands and 
stops he made against him, and the jibbing. In the mean time, 
even as the thunder of some vast mighty surf was the resonance 
of each ponderously lusty vigorous whack that with an iron 
cudgel the big man laid well into the horse, in the endeavour [as 
we have said] thus to get some travel and progression out of him. 
All which when Finn Bane son of Bresal saw, within himself he 
conceived that such-like stranger and over-sea adventurer it 
were not right without their knowledge to admit to Finn and 
to the Fianna. With strong swift steps, with speedy-footed rush, 
he started therefore and reached both Finn and Fianna, then 
uttered this lay: — 

** May the gods bless thee, Finn, O man of affable discourse . . ." 
After this lay they saw the big man approach ; but' short as 
was his distance from them now, yet for his gait of going and bis 
progress that was so bad he was a long time in covering it. 
When at length he came into Finn's presence he saluted him, 
and bowed his head and bent his knee^ giving him symptom of 

The Gil la dec air. 295 

obeisance. Finn raised his hand over him, granted him leave of 
utterance and speech, then sought news : " whether of the world's 
noble or ignoble bloods art thou ?" He answered that he knew 
not of whom he might be, [nor aught else of his particulars] save 
one thing only: that he was a Fomorian who in quest of wage 
and stipend visited on his own account the equitably judging 
kings of Christendom, and had heard that in respect of pay Finn 
never yet had denied any man. " He never has indeed," said 
Finn, " neither now will deny thee ; but, big man, what brings 
thee without a hofseboy ?" "A good cause it is : nothing in the 
world irks me more than to have a horseboy with me, because it 
is a hundred men's meal of meat and comestibles that up to one 
day's end serves my turn, and even this I account all too little 
for myself alone ; I grudge therefore to have any such boy to 
meddle with it" " And what name bearest thou ?" " The gilla 
decair^^ he replied. " Wherefore was ^ Úit gilla decair* imposed 
on thee ?" "Again the cause was a good one : in the whole world 
nought find I that comes harder to me than for the benefit of 
my lord for the time being, or of any man that * has me ' [i.e. 
retains me], to do any one single thing. But, Conan mac Morna," 
the big man went on, "among the Fianna whether of the two is 
greater: a horseman's stipend or a footman's ?" "A horseman's 
wage,*' said Conan : " for as against a footman he has twice as 
much." " Thee then I call to witness, Conan, that I am a horse- 
man: that I have a horse, and that in very act of horsemanship 
it was that I approached the Fianna. Thou, Finn son of Cumall : 
upon thy guarantee then and on the Fianna's I will e'en turn 
out my horse among their own." " Turn him out," quoth Finn. 
The big man chucked the coarse iron halter which confined his 
horse's head, and the creature with rapid strides careering made 
away till he reached the Fianna's troop of horses, which anon he 
fell to lacerate, and to kill promptly : with a bite he would whip 
the eye out of .one, with a snap would snip the ear off a second, 
and yet another one's leg would fracture with a kick. " Take 
thy horse out of that, big man," cried Conan: "by Heaven's 
parts and Earth's I pledge myself that, were it not the manner 
in which under Finn's and the Fianna's security thou hast 
enlarged him, I would let his brains out through his head's and 
his capital summit's several * windows ' [i.e. ears, eyes, nose and 

296 The Gilla decair. 

mouth] ; and many a sorry prize as heretofore Finn has drawn 
in Ireland, a worse than thyself he never had" " By Heaven's 
parts and Earth's as well I too pledge myself that take him out 
of that I never will ; for horseboy that should do me his office 
I have none, and to lead my own horse by hand is no job of 

Conan mac Moma rises, takes the halter and claps it on the 
big man's horse ; where Finn and the Fianna were, thither he 
brings him and for a long time holds him. Said Finn : '' even to 
such an one as in all accomplishments of Fianry should far 
surpass the big man thou, Conail mac Morna, hadst ne'er con- 
sented to render horseboy's service ; but wouldst thou give my 
counsel action, it were that thou shouldst mount the big man's 
horse and with him search out all hills and hollows and delicately 
flowered plains, until in reward of the Fianna's horse-troop that 
he has destroyed his heart were broken in his body [i.e. take and 
gallop him to death up hill and down dale]." Then Conan 
went, with a horseman's vault he backed the big man's horse, and 
violently, to his best eadeavour, dug both his heels into him ; but 
never a bit he stirred for that. " I perceive what ails him," Finn 
said : " until he have on him a number of people the very counter- 
poise of his own cavalier no motion may be had of him." At 
Conan's back now thirteen men of Ireland's Fianna mounted the 
big man's horse ; he lay down under them and then got up 
again. " I esteem that ye make a mock of my horse, and that 
not even I myself escape you scot-free ; therefore, Finn, and 
considering all that in this first day I have seen of your con- 
temptuous frivolity, I were to be pitied should I put in the 
residue of my year with you. I recognise moreover that that 
which currently obtains of thee is but a mock report " ; then he 
pronounced a lay, as follows: — 

" Now will I be parting from thee, Finn . . ." 

This lay ended, in spiritless and inactive guise, weakly and 
wearily, the big man proceeded until betwixt himself and Ire- 
land's Fianna he had placed a certain hill that lay in his way : 
but so soon as he had surmounted its topmost pinnacle [and 
thereby was lost to view] he kilted his coat right up, aye over 
his spherical hinder protuberances, and away with him as though 
with the swallow's or with the roe-deer's speed — or as it were 

The Gilla decair. 2()y 

vociferous wind's blast over mighty mountain in mid-month of 
March^-even such were the vigorous rapidity, the violence and 
energy, of the thundering rush that the big man made as he left 
the hill. 

When the horse saw his lord that departed from him he could 
not endure it but, great as was his load, with sudden course of 
keenest gallop took his way, following his lord. At sight of 
those thirteen men behind Conan mac Morna on the big man's \y 
horse and he in motion vFinn and the Fianna guffawed with a 
shout of mockery, flouting Conan. 1 He then, perceiving that to 
dismount was not within his means, screamed and screeched on 
Finn and the Fianna that they should not let him go with the 
so hideous and terrific big one (concerning whom it was all 
unknown what clan or kind were his) and took to reproaching 
and reviling of them : " * a deadly giddiness over water ' take /^ 
thee, Finn — may some serfs or some robber's son of the ignoble 
blood — one that by way of a father's and a mother's son shall be 
even worse than thou — take from thee all that might preserve thy 
life, and [in the end] have thy head, unless thou follow us and, 
whate'er the region or the island into which the big man shall 
transport us, bring us to Ireland back again ! " Thereupon Finn 
and the Fianna set out: over each great hill's bald pate, into the 
depth of every glen, across every estuary's swimming-place they 
followed the gilla decair ; on to pleasant sliabh luachra^ to tulach 
na senghaoithe now called berna chabair^ and into, the borders of 
corca Dhuibhne or * Corcaguiny' in Kerry, where the gUla decair 
set his face right towards the deep sea and [would have sped 
away] over the green-waved ocean brine. But Liagan Luath of 
Luachair Deghaid got his two hands on the tail of the gilla 
decaif^s horse, thinking to have hauled him in by the long horse- 
hair and so to have detained them that rode him. To Liagan 
Luath however he on the contrary gave a lusty right valiant tug, 
and into the expanse of sea and ocean dragged him in his wake. 
Tightly now Liagan clutched the tail ; and aye as they went the 
sea in huge round swells kept rolling after^them, but shewed a 
sandy strand ahead. 

That those fifteen men of his people thus were taken from him 
was a worry to Finn, himself too being left under bonds to 
recover them. "What shall we do now?" Ossian enquired of 


298 TJie Gilla decair. 

him. " What should we do but, be the region or island what it 
may into which the big man shall convey them, to follow our 
people and by fair means or by foul to retrieve them back again 
to Ireland?" "What can we effect without either ship or fast 
galley ?'* "There is this," Finn answered: "that to the children 
of Gaedhel glas [i.e. the Gael] son of Fenius Farsa son of Niul 
the tuatha dé danann once by way of special gift bequeathed 
that, whosoever of them should have occasion to leave Ireland for 
a time, let him but resort to Ben-Edar and, be the number what 
it would that accompanied him thither, there they should find a 
ship or a speedy galley to suffice them." 

Here Finn glanced towards the sea and saw, on a straight 
course towards him, a brace of valorous fellows: bulkiest of 
heroes, most powerful of fighting men, hardiest of champions. 
Upon his dorsal superficies the first one wore a ribbed and 
gaudy-coloured shield with forms of lions, of leopards, and of 
marvellous griffins designed exactly and embossed on it ; at his 
left leg's thigh was a massy mighty-striking sword, steel-flash- 
ing, very terrible, and at his shoulder two thick great spears ; 
a scarlet mantle with a fibula of gold surmounting his breast 
wrapped him ; on his head he had a twisted fillet of white 
bronze ; gold underlay either foot [i.e. he had golden sandals]. 
On the second man was just such bravery. No long tarrying 
they made before they came upon the spot, and bowed their 
heads and bent their knees, rendering to Finn tokens of obei- 
sance. He raised his hand over them, gave them licence of dis- 
course and utterance, and enquired whether they were of the 
world's noble or of its ignoble bloods. They averred themselves 
to be sons to the king of Ind, and that their peregrination into 
Ireland was moved by an intent there to be for a year on Finn's 
wage and stipend: "for," said they, "we have heard that in all 
Ireland is not a man that would prove more acute than he in 
judging between [i.e. in appraising] the accomplishments which 
we two possess." "And these that ye have, what are they?" 
asked Finn. The first man said : " in the way of special art I 
have a carpenter's axe and a sling ; and though in one spot I 
had thirty hundred of Ireland's men, yet with the striking of 
three strokes of my axe upon the sling-stick I would produce 
either ship or speedy galley to suffice them, while as for co-opera- 

The Gilla decair. 299 

tion I would require of them none other than that during delivery 
of such three strokes they should bow down their heads." " Good 
art," quoth Finn: "and now what art hath that other man?" 
The second rejoined: " I by way of art have this: that I would 
carry the teal's trail over nine ridges and nine furrows, until I 
came on her in her dwelling and on her bed ; and upon either 
sea or land would do the thing indifferently." " Good art," Finn 
said again : " and would ye lend us help in tracking we would 
have great use for you." A man of them asked : " What is taken 
from you ?" Finn told them the gilla decaif^s history from first 
to last, and questioned them: "what are the names ye bear?" 
The first replied: " I indeed bear 'the king of Ind*s son: Fera- 
dach the very valorous.'" Thereupon Ireland's Fianna incline 
their heads and the very valorous Feradach proceeds to inflict 
on his sling-stick three stokes of the axe he had, by which pro- 
cess he made the bay's whole circumference and the sheltering 
haven to be all full of ships and of speedy galleys. Finn asked 
now: "what shall we do with the so great number of those 
vessels?" Feradach made answer: "saving only so many as 
will serve thy turn we will do away with them." 

Then Caeilte rose and emitted three loud tremendous shouts, 
so that in all airts where they were Ireland's Fianna hearing him 
surmised that at the hands of extern and over-sea assailants 
Finn and the rest of the Fianna were in some dire necessity and 
strait In small separate squads [as they chanced to be] they 
set out therefore and" [converging] reached clochán cinn chait or 
* the cat's head's stepping-stones ' in Corcaguiny's western part, 
where they sought to learn of Finn what need or what thing of 
horror had overtaken him in that from their several slipping- 
stations, hunting forests and various wiles of venery, he drew 
them thus away. Finn told them all the gilla decait^s business 
from first to last 

Between themselves now Finn and Ossian took counsel, and 
what seemed good to them was this : since but fifteen men of his 
people were carried off from Finn, he with fifteen others to go 
upon their track ; Ossian to be left in the Fianna's command-in- 
chief, and to keep Ireland. Then Finn and Ossian made a 
lay: — 
" Thou departing on adventure, red-weaponed and blood-shedding Finn . . ." 


Jdd The Gil/a decair. 

After which lay a grand ship of great burthen was fitted out 
for Finn and his people ; and in her were stowed victual where 
it might be got at to consume, gold where it could be had to 
give away. Then along the sides and bulwarks of that ship in 
which they were now embarked those stalwart young men and 
comely valiant heroes took their seats ; in their expert wide- 
grasping and enduring hands they gripped the broad-bladed 
tough oars ; and so athwart the deep and heaving main's expanse, 
the valleys of the vast terrible sea's frowning masses, over the 
gaping white-foamed gulfs broad-backed black-visaged and swift- 
hurtling surges, with straining mighty effort they pulled off. 

Now rose the sea, turning to become a wondrous and loud- 
bellowing thing of awe, in fierce and diverse-sounding mad- 
careering ponderous volume ; in eminences restless, curving and 
grim-headed ; in gloomy murk impenetrable surfaces ; in wide- 
jawed white-skinned waves ; in mighty mane-clad hills [which 
in their motion seemed] frenzied, reason-reft ; in dire currents 
fed of many lesser streams, and in much-burthen-bearing far- 
extended broken green-hued waters. To Finn and his people it 
was both a lullaby and again an early morning rouse-call to hear 
broad ocean's concert as against their ship's sides it purred one 
while, anon loudly boomed, accompanying her ever. 

Three days he and his passed thus, nor of mainland, of isle or 
island, saw any coast at all. But at the end of that period a 
man of Finn's folk went into the ship's head, and away out from 
him descried a rugged grey huge precipice ; towards which cliff 
they drove their craft, and found that on it there abutted a rock, 
solid and cylindrical, having sides slipperier than dorsal fin of 
eel on river's bottom. Up to this they got the gilla decair s 
track, but found none that left it Now spoke Fergus Truelips, 
Finn's oUave, and said: "cowardly and punily thou shrinkest, 
Dermot ; for with most potent Manannan son of Lir thou 
studiedst and wast brought up, in the land of promise and in the 
bay-indented coasts ; with Angus Oge too, the Daghda's son, 
wast most accurately taught ; and it is not just that now thou 
lackest even a modicum of their skill and daring, such as might 
serve to convey Finn and his party up this rock or bastion." At 
these words Dermot's face grew red ; he laid hold on Man- 
annan's magic staves that he had and, as once again he redly 

The Gilla decair. 301 

blushed, by dint of skill in martial feats he with a leap rose on 
his javelins' shafts and so gained his two soles' breadth of the 
solid glebe that overhung the water's edge. Under him and 
downwards Duibhne's grandson looked on Finn and his people 
but, much as he longed to descend again and bring them up, he 
could not compass it. He left the rock behind him therefore ; and 
was not gone far when he perceived a waste and tangled sylvan 
tract: shelter-giving woods of densest thicket which, of all that 
ever he had ranged, did most abound in foliage, in babble of 
bum and sough of wind, in melody of birds, in hum of bees. 
From east and west, from south and north, Duibhne's grandson 
traversed the plain and, as he looked abroad, was aware of a vast 
tree with interlacing boughs and thickly furnished ; hard by 
which was a great mass of stone furnished on its very apex with 
an ornamented pointed drinking-horn, and having at its base a 
fair well of water in all its purity. Now after his passage of the 
sea^ drouth and thirst were set in on Dermot, and he lusted to 
drink a hornful of the spring's water ; down he stooped to it, but 
heard a loud and rumbling noise that [so it seemed] came toward 
him, and he perceived then that of the fountain's special spells 
it was that none must drink a drop of its water. Nevertheless 
he said : " I will quaff my fill of it." 

This done he was no long time before he saw approach to him 
a wizard wearing mien and garb of hostile import ; nor was it 
courteous salutation that he when he came up addressed to 
Dermot, but he outrageously upbraided him: saying that to 
roam his forest and domain of waste, and to drink up his store 
of water, was an iniquitous thing for him to do. Boldly and 
vehemently then Dermot and the magician faced each one the 
other, and in valiant manful right heroic wise : mutually answer- 
ing and requiting with rapid sharp-dealt strokes and stern buffets 
until even-tide and day's end overtook them. Here the wizard 
judged it time to knock off from fighting with Dermot, and dived 
to the bottom of the well quite away from him ; but to Dermot 
it was a vexation that his partner in the combat was divorced 
from him thus. He looks to the four airts however, and sees a 
herd of deer draw through the forest ; then draws near to them 
and into the next stag sends a right javelin-cast that rips out his 
entrails and inwards, leaving them on the ground. He carried 

302 The Gilla decair. 

him off [to a fitting place], took out his kindling gear and made 
a large fire ; of the deer's flesh he cut individual small gobbets, 
imposed them on spits of the white hazel, and that night used 
his sufficiency of venison and of the spring's water both. 

At early morn he roused himself and at the well before him 
found the magician, who said : " grandson of Duibhne, it seems 
to me that to have had the travelling of my waste and forest 
sufficed thee not but thou must enjoy its venery as well." At all 
events [at it they went again] and dealt each other blow for blow, 
wound for wound, prod for prod, until for the second time eve- 
ning and the day's end caught them. For three twenty-four 
hours they fought thus all day, and nightly Dermot had a 
mighty hart ; but on their contest's last day Dermot, when the 
magician made his usual nimble jump for the well, would have 
thrown his arm around the other's neck and [in the effort] both 
together dived into it, once underneath which the wizard forsook 
Dermot He leaving the well behind him followed after and 
found before him a wide open country, beautiful and flowery : in 
its a regal splendid city and, on the green fronting the 
citadel, a serried host and multitude who, whenever they saw 
Dermot make for the wizard, left to the latter as it might be a 
royal road and common way until through the portal he was 
passed into the place of strength, and on him then they shut the 
fortress gates. Then the whole host turned on Dermot ; yet 
never a whit of faintness did that breed in him, nor diminution 
of his hardihood : but under them, and through and over them, 
he passed as would hawk through flight of small bii ds, or wolf 
through sheep-flock ; or as the weighty rush of a mad swollen 
stream in spate that over and adown a cliff of ocean spouts, even 
such was he as he mangled and slew those companies, whelming 
them utterly, till in the end they betook them some to the 
country's fast wild woods, and the remnant inward through the 
fort's gates which, as well as the city's, they closed after them. 
That stubborn fight thus ended, Dermot all full of hurts and 
wounds and drenched in blood lay down upon the ground. 

To him enters now a burly wizard of great daring, and from the 
direction of his rear impinges on him with a kick. Dermot 
rouses himself and to his weapons reaches his ready warrior 
hand, but : " grandson of Duibhne," the sorcerer cried, " take it 

The Gilla decair. 303 

easy: not to do thee harm or hurt am I come, but to apprize 
thee that an ill place of sleep and of sound slumber is that in 
which thou art, on thine enemies' and thy foemen's green ; 
rather come with me, and thou shalt have a better sleeping 
berth." Dermot followed the wizard: long and far they jour- 
neyed from the spot, and until they found ahead of them a 
towering fortress in which were thrice fifty high-mettled men- 
at-arms with their suitable allowance of gentle women, forby a 
white-toothed rosy-cheeked delicate-handed and black-eyebrowed 
maiden that sat against the castle wall : a silken mantle, a tunic 
netted of golden threads she had about her and, on her head, a 
queen's rightful decorated wimple. A most friendly welcome in 
his own name and surname was given to Dermot ; he was 
bestowed in an infirmary, herbs of price and virtue were applied 
to his hurts and he was healed completely, made * all smooth * 
again. Now were the castle's boards and benches set ; nor was 
villain set in gentle's room, nor a gentle in the villain's, but at said 
tables each one according to his rank, his patrimony or his art, 
was in his own becoming place. Excellent toothsome viands 
were brought in to them, together with well -flavoured strong 
drinks ; the fore-part of night they passed in banqueting, the 
second with recreation of intelligence and mind, and the third 
they brought to with soundest sleep lasting until at morrow's 
morn the sun in his fiery orb rose over the grossly earthy world. 
For three days and three nights Dermot was in the fort, the 
best feast that ever he had had being served to him the while ; 
and at the end of that space he enquired what might be the 
castle and what the country in which he found himself, and who 
was head over it The wizard told him that this was Hr fó 
ihuinn or *the submerged land ' \lit 'terra sub unda'] ; he that 
had fought with him being king of that realm, and his sobriquet 
in chivalry * the Wizard of the Well,' who to him that now spoke 
was *a foeman of the red hand' [i.e. there was a blood feud 
between them]. He farther told Dermot that he himself was 
* the Wizard of Chivalry,' and for a year had been on wage and 
stipend with Cumall's son Finn in Ireland, than which year also 
he never had put over him one that he had found more delec- 
table ; after which he desired to learn of Dermot what were the 
journey and the undertaking that lay before him. Then Dermot 

- I 

304 The Gilla decair. 

rehearsed to him from first to last the history of Finn and the 
gilla decair, 

Howbeit when to Finn and his folk it now seemed too long 
that Dermot was away from them, of the ship's cordage they 
made ladders and applied them to scale the jutting crag in order 
to trace out Duibhne's grandson ; then they came upon the rem- 
nant of his venison, for never yet had he eaten flesh but he left 
some fragment Finn looked on all sides, and in the open saw a 
horseman that came towards him : a horse of a handsome colour 
was under him, one of darkest bay, which a most comely bridle 
of the red gold held. When he came up Finn saluted him ; he 
for his part bent his head, gave Finn kisses three, and intreated 
him with him to his dwelling. Long and far they went thence and 
at last found in their front a mighty and spacious place of arms, 
well garrisoned, and on the green before this fort a numerous 
army. Here Finn and company spend three days and three 
nights, the finest feast that ever they had being served to them 
the while, and most decently. That interval being run out, and 
Finn questioning what might be the fortress and what the country 
in which he was, the other answered that this was the land of 
Sorcha and he its king ; that for a year, than which he never had 
passed a more delectable, he once had been on wage and stipend 
with Finn in Ireland. 

By Finn and the king of Sorcha accordingly a day of gather- 
ing and of high convention was appointed, and [when it came] 
they saw a she-courier or, in other words, a feminine running 
footman progress through the assembly to them. The king 
examined her for news, and such indeed she owned to having: 
as that the bay's limits and the harbour's were full of ships and 
galleys ; armed bodies throughout all the land, and they plunder- 
ing the country, " I see it all," quoth the king : " the monarch 
of the Greeks it is that's there, in prosecution of his conquests all 
the world over ; he would reduce the universe at large under his 
own rule and tribute and, as he has seized all other countries, so 
now he takes this as well." With that the king glanced at Finn, 
who within himself understood that it was help and participation 
that thereby the king sought of him ; he said therefore: "the 
holding and the maintaining of this land I take upon myself 
until 1 quit it." 

The Gilla decair. 305 

He and his, with the king of Sorcha, set out and followed up 
that host, of whom by-and-by, after great slaughter of warriors 
and oglaechSy they made headlong lamentable fugitives: a mere 
frightened unenduring bird-flock, and suffered not to escape but 
barely so many of them as might suffice to tell their tale. The 
monarch of the Greeks spoke now, saying: "who is it that has 
made this grievous carnage of my people?" and he proceeded to 
affirm that never before had he heard of the men of Ireland's 
valiance and achievement either as existing presently or as being 
even matter of tradition ; but that, as matters stood, he would 
even to the world's very last end banish all progeny of Gael Glas 
son of Niul son of Fenius Farsa. Finn and the king pitched a 
green pavilion right in view of the monarch's fleet, nearest to 
which of all the country's forces was the tent occupied by GoU 
mac Moma and by Ossian's son Oscar. 

Again the Grecian monarch spoke, and said : " whom may I 
find to avenge on Finn and on the king of Sorcha my people's 
slaughter and dishonour?" "Thou shalt have me," answered 
the king of Franks' son and, after gathering together the bulk of 
his household, marched on the tent in which Finn and the king 
of Sorcha were. GoU mac Morna when he saw this rose to 
meet and to answer them ; but Oscar asked : " what then is this 
that thou wouldst do, Goll?" and he replied: "this day's fight I 
desire to fight for Finn." "So do not," said Oscar: "thy hand 
it is that in battles and in fights of two is proved the most ; 
rather now suffer me in Finn's behalf to endure this day's set-to." 
Goll having yielded Oscar licence of the combat, he and the 
king of Franks' son faced each other: like two rabid dragons, 
like two far-reaching terrible lightning-jets, or two surges of 
most violent spring-tide surmounting pinnacles of rock — such 
might fitly be that pair of worthy champions' commemoration 
and description. 

Yet Goll mac Morna, after clasping of his body in its armature 
of battle, came and upon the king of Franks' men made a charge 
so brave and undismayed, so fraught with hewing and with 
blood-spilling, that he converted them into crazed-like erratic 
lightly driven leaves [the sport of winds] ; in such measure 
that heads were left bodiless, bodies lifeless, wives reft of their 
husbands, and mothers wanting their sons. 


3o6 The Gilla decatr. 

Oscar of the martial weapons now triumphantly pressed home 
to execute, to behead, the king of Franks' son ; which being 
accomplished he turned to Goll and helped him to destroy so 
many of the whilom prince's household as he had not yet killed. 
Their leader's head he shook full in sight of the Grecian 
monarch's fleet, and the two together emitted that which to 
Finn and his people was a shout of victory and of exultation, 
but to the Greeks one of gloom and of discouragement 

At this point the king of Greeks again delivered himself, and 
said : " whom can I have that on Finn and the king of Sorcha 
will avenge my own shame and my people's?'* "Thou shalt 
have me," answered an enormous stripling: the king of Africs 
son. With the full number of his own contingent this youth 
sought the tent in which the king of Sorcha lay, and when the 
king of India's sons saw the move they came to meet them. 
** What would ye do ?" Finn asked of these, and the very valiant 
Feradach made answer: "this day's strife we would gladly 
undertake for thee." " That shalt thou not," said Finn : " for as 
yet ye are not in my pay during a space of time such as might 
entitle you to a fight of the kind." But they [speaking severally] 
rejoined : " by my arms of prowess and of chivalry I vow that, if 
thou grant us not liberty of the fray, we will no longer be thy 
stipendiaries." With that, on either side those pillars of battle, 
those prodigies of performance, fought a fight that was desperate 
and cruel, with thundering onset and with pitiless laying on of 
blows, so that they shivered their thick-shafted crimson-headed 
and broad-socketted spears ; and all those good warriors with 
their hewing and sore vehemence cleft each other's shapely 
helmets wrought of cunning armourers. As for the king of 
India's sons: in front of both armies the tall youth, prince of 
Africa, was beheaded by them, and his head they shook at the 
Grecian host. At Finn they vented a shout of triumph and of 
exultation, which to the Grecian potentate's forces was one of 
melancholy and of discouragement. 

Yet again he spoke: "whom may I have to take vengeance 
on Finn and on the king of Sorcha for my own and my people's 
shame?" "Thou shalt have me," said his own son: "to cope 
with the fifteen men that Finn has I will lead other fifteen, and 

The Gilla decair, 307 

will myself bring thee his head; each one of ifly people also 
bringing that of another.** 

The king of Greeks had a spinster daughter {Taise, called ^ 
taebgkd or •white-sided/ Was her name) who — ^as the sea sur- 
passes all torrents, the Shannon other rivers, and the eagle birds 
— in form, in beauty and in aspect, transcended the whole world's 
universal womeA ; and for his fame and wide renown she loved 
Finn though she had not seen him. Of her father therefore she 
craved as a boon that he would admit her to look oti at the 
Combat set betwixt Finn and her brother. This leave the king 
vouchsafed her, and she brought with her the handmaid whose it 
was to bear her Company. 

The Greek prince faced the tent in which were Finn and the 
king his friend, whereupon Finn said : " I see it all — single com- 
bat he would have of me, and one of my people to fight with 
each man of his." Like two most doughty lions he and the . 
Greek confronted or, for hostility, like a pair of venomous 
snakes, of again in swift-footed rushes like two talon-wearing 
griffins ; so that the earth of ponderous glebe shook beneath 
their tread, and with the rapidity and fervour of those good 
warriors' right striking they fairly hurled the straight swords 
from their hands, making themselves heard among the crags and 
distant recesses. At last Finn dealt the prince a weighty stroke 
of mighty impact and from his graceful neck, from off his body, 
sent his head flying fan A shout of victory and of triumph was 
sent forth by Finn and his ; by them of the Grecian fleet, one 
of gloom and discouragement. Over the grave of the fallen the 
monumental stone was raised, their names written in Ogham 
above them all ; and great as was the love which at the first 
Taise of the white body had borne to Finn, seven times so much 
she bestowed on him while he butchered her brother. Privily 
therefore she sent him an embassage, offering herself to him : a 
matter which to Finn was one of gladness and of complete 

That night Taise stole away to him. On the morrow the 
monarch awoke, and it was told him how Taise was fled away to 
Finn. Not the loss of his people he lamented now, but white- 
bodied Taise ; and declared that on him who should retrieve her 
from Finn he would confer many precious things, and wealth. 

X 2 

3o8 The Gilla decair. 

A chief captain of the household of the monarch's folk spoke : 
" fulfill me that which thou hast promised, in which case I will 
from Finn recover thee the maid ; for I possess a certain special 
branch of great beauty, and though I had the whole world's 
hosts together in one spot, with the mere sound of my sprig 
waved over against them I would throw them all into trance of 
sleep and soundest slumber." The chief captain of the house- 
hold went his way for the tent in which Finn and the king of 
Sorcha were, waved the branch at them, and threw them into a 
stupor such that in the same night he kidnapped Taise. But the 
determination to which the monarch came was that, Taise being 
thus restored, no more of his people must be slain by Finn ; 
accordingly he took himself off to the land of Greece. 

On the morrow Finn quivered to find that Taise was [as he 
supposed] departed on the sly, and after the monarch's daughter 
he felt dark and spirit-faint " O Finn," Sorcha's king said, " nor 
gloom nor discouragement afliiict thee with grieving for the 
maiden ! I with a numerous host will myself bear thee company 
to the Greek monarch's land, where by fair means or by foul we 
will win back his daughter ;" and he pronounced a lay: — 
" That was well won, O son of Cumall I . . ," 
After this lay a day of general gathering and of high conven- 
tion was set by Finn and the king of Sorcha ; and [as all were 
assembled] they saw banners, diversely gaudy, ornamented 
variously, standards of soft silk, well-tempered battle-swords 
carried at warriors' and at champions' shoulders, dense great 
groves of lengthy spears, tall and tough, reared over them and 
(in that numerous company's forefront) Dermot of the glittering 
teeth. Him Finn recognises, and despatches to him Fergus 
Truelips to enquire what it all might mean : what was the band 
with which he came, or had he procured tidings to bring to him 
of his people gone with Úíq gilla decair f Dermot made answer 
that this was the Wizard of Chivalry, who by his magic art had 
shewn him that it was Allchad's son Abartach who from Finn 
had carried off those fifteen men of his into the land of promise. 
Hereupon Finn was determined what he would do: Dermot 
being now joined with GoU and Oscar he would send them on to 
the Grecian lands to fetch the monarch's daughter and, along 
with them, Fergus to proclaim their slaughters and their 

The Gilla dec air. 309 

triumphs ; himself and the rest of his folk to make for the 
promised- land, and whosoever should the iirst be there to 
await the other party. 

For Finn and people a brave ship of burthen was fitted out ; 
and of their farther doings record there is none until they found 
themselves in the, land of promise, where they saw a grand 
gathering held in which was Abartach son of Allchad. To him 
Finn sends a messenger to require of him his missing men, or 
else battle. Abartach chose rather to restore him his people, 
and in damage of his long journey to pay him that which him- 
self he might assess. Then he took Finn home with him to his 
own strong place, where the best feast that ever Finn had had 
was ministered to him most becomingly ; and Finn tarries in the 
land of promise until GoU and Oscar should join him. 

Touching which two, for them also a tall ship of great capacity 
was made ready: one with a sharp and decorated prow, one 
built solidly. They turned their backs to the land and set their 
faces to the sea: to the green-chequered ocean's borders, to the 
angry and frowning cold-wet acclivities of the main ; with 
strenuous labouring and with swift career holding their course 
till they listened to utterance, of sea-hogs and of mermaids, to 
wondrous monsters of the abyss^ and on the coasts of fair and 
lovely Greece finally came into port Their craft they beached 
where wave might not buffet her nor pound her into little bits, 
nor rock break her up. Forth from them now they saw the 
city of Athens which is in Greece and, when they were landed, 
chanced upon the state's herdsmen and the cattle of the country 
[i.e. the national stock]. Of these herdsmen they sought to 
learn how was the city named which they saw, what the country 
in which it stood, and who might be its head ? The others for 
their part interrogated the strangers whether it were in obscure 
and devious glens of some kind that they were bom [and reared], 
inasmuch as they lacked all knowledge of this city, and even of 
its name ; then proceeded to tell them that it was the city of 
Athens in Greece, than which not one in all the world abounded 
more in strong arms of soldiers and of martial men in crowded 
companies, and given up to practice of valour and of chivalry. 
Said Oscar to Goll: "and what shall we do now?" GoU said to 
Oscar: "what should we do but enter into the city and, by fair 

3IO The Gilla decair^ 

mean3 or hiy foul, fetch away Talse ?" " Not so will we do," 
said Fergus Truelips, " but rather weave ye your hair in four-ply 
tresses and give out that ye are- poets, keen-edged, correct of 
diction, that wander to visit all Christendom's equitably judging 
kings." But Goll said: "supposing a cast of our art to be 
required of us, what shall we do then ?" and Fergus replied: " in 

' your behalf I will supply the same." This they did, and headed 
for the fort ; then with a poet's wand struck a stroke on the lintel 

^ of the city gate. The gate-ward told them that the king was not 
at home, but gone to hunt; that within were none but Taise and 
her companion waitingmaid, to whom until the king should be 
returned access was not to be had by any. 

The monarch came back : for he had that day disposed a g^eat 
hunting party whereby hounds had red muzzles, and warriora 
crimsoned hands ; while by effect of that heavily productive chase 
the followers and villains of the king's household were all spent 
with toil. Goll and Oscar saluted the king, and he sought their 
tidings ; Taise of the white side knew them, but never spoke to 
them. The time of sleep and slumber being now at hand how- 
ever, in order to their reciting of some tales for her pastime she 
required to have those unknown men of art admitted to her sole 
company. Into the one chamber therefore they all went, and 
there disclosed themselves: each to other. To Fergus demanding 
the stratagem by which for the second time she would elope to 
Finn, she said that on the morrow the monarch would prosecute 
the same hunting ; as for herself, with Goll and Oscar she would 
steal away to the ship out of which they were but now come. 
The king went afield, and Taise quietly made off with the two 
[who gulled out and away] till they were in the land of promise. 
Finn when he perceived these five individuals at a distance 
passed on them an opinion of recognition, saying that those 
with whom he would compare these comers he held in dear 
affection: Goll and Oscar namely, Fergus Truelips, Taise and 
the waitingmaid her fellow. 

His people now being all re-united thus with Finn, Abartach 
son of Allchad told him to make his own assessment of indem- 
nity for the affront put on him, and for his long peregrination ; 
but Finn said that the wage which [at his first engaging of him] 
he had promised to Abartach, and the damages [now due to him- 

O^Donnsirs Kern. 3 1 1 

self], he would sufTer to stand one against the other. Neverthe- 
less Abartach replied : " in all this there is not any advantage to 
me so lopg as the Fianna's man of abuse and their reviler, Conan 
mac Moma, remains without his own award of compensation." 
Here Conan cried: "by Heaven's divers parts, and Earth's, I 
bind myself that in default of that same I will not rest con- 
tented ! " So much Abartach promised him, and the adjl^iica- 
tion that Conan made was this: that he should carry off fourteen 
women (best that were in the promised land), beisides Abartach's 
own wife; the same lady to be stuck, as had been Liagan Luath 
of Luachair Deghaid, at the horse's tail ; and the fourteen afore- 
said to bestride him until again he should be in the western part 
of Corcaguiny. 

And know now that neither gold nor silver it was that Conan 
awarded himself, but simply as we have said: he to carry off 
fourteen women (best in the land of promise), along with Abar- 
tach's wife who, like the swift Liagan, must be stuck at the 
horse's tail ; while the fourteen other women (even as Conan and 
the rest of his people had done) should ride him till again they 
should be at clochdn cinn chait in the west of Corcaguiny. 

" There are thy people, Finn ! " said Abartach ; and the chief 
looked on every side of him, but whether up or whether down he 
saw no more Abartach. Home to Leinster's spacious Almhain 
he carried Taise, and they of the place made the couple's wed- 
ding feast 

This then is the Pursuit of the Gilla decair^ and the romance 
relating to him, from first to last. 

. Finis, 

Story of the Kern in the narrow stripes ory as some have 

it J of O'DonneWs Kern. 

O'Donnell (Black Hugh son of Red Hugh son of Niall garbh 
son of Turlough of the Wine) was in Ballyshannon of a day, and 
with his country's gentles and chief notables there held high 
festival. With new of all meats and with old of all liquors they 

312 O * Donne IVs Kern. 

were supplied and plied until, one and all being by-and-by full 
and merry and of good cheer, a certain galloglass of O'DonneH's 
following took on him to utter thus: "by Heaven's grace, from 
this very spot to the king of Greece's house there is not a single 
house better than this ; neither are there two-and-twenty fellows 
pleasanter than a score and two that now are in the same: as 
Red Conan 0*Rafferty, and Dermot O'Gillagan, and Cormac 
O'Kieragan, and Teigue O'Crugadan, together with others whom 
it boots not to recite here." 

They in this strain discoursing anon saw towards them a kern 
that wore narrow stripes : the puddle-water plashing in his brogues, 
his lugs through his old mantle protruding both, a moiety of his 
sword's length naked sticking out behind his stem, while in his 
right hand he bore three limber javelins of the holly-wood charred 
[i.e. fire-hardened in place of iron-headed]. "God save thee, 
O'Donnell," quoth he. "And thee too," the chief returned: 
"whence comest thou?" "My use and wont is to be in Islay 
one day, another in Cantyre ; a day in Man, a day in Rathlin, 
and yet another on Slievecam ; for a ranting rambling roving 
blade am I, and thou, O'Donnell, art he that for the present hast 
a hold of me." " Be the gatekeeper summoned to me," O'Donnell 
said; and the gatekeeper appeared who, on being questioned: 
"was it thou that didst admit this fellow?" answered: "not I 
indeed ; nor have I ever before seen him." But the Kern said : 
" O'Donnell, let him pass ; for to enter in was for me a matter 
no easier than it will be (whenever I am so" minded) to emerge 
again." " Sit down," said O'Donnell. " I'll sit or I'll not sit ; 
for nought do I but that which may be pleasing to myself" 
O'Donnell listening to him nevertheless made him no rejoinder, 
but marvelled what manner of man should be he that unseen by 
janitor or by any other in the gate could enter into the fortress 
and make his way into the very heart of O'Donnell's mansion. 
The men of art too with all their eyes considered him. 

Here the Kern said : " play us a measure of music. Red Conan 
O'Rafferty!" and at his behest Red Conan did so. "Dermot 
O'Gillagan, play a tune !" and Dermot executed a piece. "Make 
music, Cormac O'Kieragan and Teigue O'Crugadan !" and for 
the Kern they struck up melody that welled aloud. 

Howbeit those cunning players all played smooth-flowing 


O 'Donneirs Kern. 3 1 3 

harmonious and delectable airs, the harp's sweetest consonances, 
till with their minstrelsy's fairy spell men might well have been 
lulled to sleep. Yet the Kern cried : " by Heaven's graces three, 
O'Donnell, since first I heard tell of them whose music is the 
making of every evil sound — Belzibub's artists to wit, and 
Abiron's, with those of the other black murk princes of the in- 
fernal commonwealth, that in nethermost Hell's smoke-wrapped 
ground-tier with their sledge-hammers ever ding the iron — any 
one thing which might paragon thy folk's dissonance I never have 
heard ! " 

He with that taking an instrument made symphony so gently 
sweet, and in such wise wakened the dulcet pulses of the harp, 
that in the whole world all women labouring of child, all wounded 
warriors, mangled soldiers, and gallant men gashed about — with 
all in general that suffered sore sickness and distemper — might 
with the witching charm of this his modulation have been lapped 
in stupor of slumber and of soundest sleep. " By Heaven's grace 
again," exclaimed O'Donnell, "since first I heard the fame of 
them that within the hills and under the earth beneath us make 
the fairy music — such as are Finn mac Forgy, and Shennach 
O'Dorgy, and Suanach mac Shennach, and the scológ of Kil- 
cullen, and the bacach of Benburren : that at one and the same 
time make some to sleep, and some to weep, and others again to 
laugh — music sweeter than thy strains I never have heard ; thou 
art in sooth a most melodious rogue !" " One day I'm sweet 
another I'm bitter," replied the Kern. Then he that served the 
company [i.e. the major-domo] spoke to him, saying: "Kern, 
come up higher and sit in O'Donnell's company to eat with him : 
he sends to bid thee up." " That will I not," he retorted : " I 
will not be otherwise than in the post of an ugly rascal that 
would make sport for gentlemen ; higher than this therefore I 
will not go but,'if it so please them, let them send me down their 
bounty." By the man of service therefore they transmitted to 
the Kern a jerkin, a hat, a striped shirt and a mantle. " Here," 
said the servitor, " is a suit that O'Donnell sends thee ;" but the 
Kern refusing the same said: " I will not have it ; nor shall any 
that is of gentle blood ever have wherewithal to taunt me." 

To guard the outer gate on either side twenty horsemen 
armed and armoured all were told off now, and twenty gallo- 

314 O' Donneir s Kern. 

glasses that indoors should surround and hold the Ketn. As 
many more too were stationed [with the horse] at the fortress 
gate without, for now they perceived that no man appertaining 
to this world was he ; and he enquired : ^ what would ye with all 
these?" to which O'Donnell returned: "to keep thee." "By 
Heaven's three graces, it is not with you that I will dine to- 
morrow!" "Good now: and where else?" asked the Chief. 
" At Knockany, twelve miles forth of Limerick city, where Shane 
fnac an iarla isy in Desmond" " By Heaven," quoth a galloglass 
of them, " were I to catch thee giving but a single stir till mom» 
ing, with my axe's poll I would knock thee into a fair round 
lump upon the ground ! " 

But here the Kern taking the instrument, made melody so 
sweet ... [as above]; then to them that were outside 
called: "galloglasses, where are ye? here I'm out to you, and 
watch me well or I am clean gone away ! " On hearing these 
words the first galloglass jumped up, raised his axe, and g^ve his 
next man a clour that felled him to the earth ; and the remnant 
of them, marking their fellow's stroke that had so missed its 
mark, with fury and virulence lifted up their axes against the 
Kern and at his head let fly again, and yet again, and lustily ; 
all which endeavours fell on one man or on another of them* 
selves. In this fashion the Kern set the galloglasses to belabour- 
ing of each other with their axe's polls, the mounted men as 
well getting their share, until all hands lay there stretched in 
blood. He however, that had neither scrape nor scratch on him, 
accosted the gatekeeper and bade him exact from O'Donnell in 
fee of his people's resuscitation twenty cows and a cartron of free 
land; also he prescribed thus: "to each man's gums rub this 
herb here; so shall he stand up sound and whole" As the 
Kern had shewn him so the gatekeeper did ; and in reward of his 
men brought to life again, had of O'Donnell the twenty kine and 
cartron of free land. 

Just at this very time it was that on the green in front of his 
dwelling and good town Shane mac an iarla of Desmond held 
gathering and convention, and he as he chanced to look about 
him was aware of one that approached him : a kern in garb of 
narrow stripes, with half of his sword's length stuck naked out 
behind him ; the puddle-water churning in his old brogues, his 

O 'Donneirs Kern. 3 1 5 

ear-tips protruding through bis ancient mantle^ and in his hand 
he held a long rod partially scorched. " God save you ! " he 
cried. "And thee too," returned Shzx\t ntac an iarla: "whence 
comest thou young man ?" " In O'Donnell's mansion in Bally- 
shannon I slept last night ; the night before in dun monaidh^ in 
the king of Scotland's house ; and here with you, mac an iarla^ I 
sleep to-night." " What is thy name ?" " Duartane O'Duartane 
are my name and surname." " What road hast thou travelled 
hither?" "By Assaroe of mac Modhaim which now is called 
the Sligeach or * Sligo,' and so to the fair Keshcorran ; from the 
Corran to the Curlieu hills and to Moylurg of the Daghda ; past 
Cruachan in magh Aei to magh mucramha^ and [through the 
length of Thomond] into the land of Hy-Conall Gowra, until 
now I have reached thyself, Shane mac an iarla ! " Then 
Duartane was taken indoors, where he tossed oflT a drink, washed 
his feet, and till sunrise hour on the morrow slept 

Shane mac an iarla at this time visiting him spoke to him 
affably and friendliwise, in these words : " thy sleep I perceive to 
have been a long one ; which indeed is no wonder, considering 
thy yesterday's journey that was so protracted. But I have 
heard that in books and with the harp thou hast much skill, 
wherefore this morning I am fain to hear thee." "In these 
arts," rejoined the Kern, "I of a certainty am most potent." 
Straightway a book was brought to him, but one word he could 
not frame to read ; a harp also being furnished to him, not a 
tune could he play. "Thy music and thy learning are as it 
would seem but clean forgotten," Shane said, "which moves me 
to indite a quatrain on thee: — 

" Good heavens, this is a grand repute to have : that Duartane O'Duartane 
cannot read one line of a. book nor, failing that, has even a word at all by 
rote !" 

Duartane, finding himself thus in process of criticism and of 
ridicule, now laid hold on Shane mac an iarlcis book, in which 
from page's top to bottom, and with enunciation well cadenced 
and correct, he carefully and decently read. Next he seized the 
harp and played such a gush of music ... [as before] ; and 
Shane mxican iarla said : " thou art a most sweet man of science." 
" One day I'm sweet, another I'm sour," quoth the Kern. 

Midday being by this time past, Shane mcu: an iarla and 

3 1 6 O 'Donneirs Kern. 

Duartane along with him walked abroad on Knockany, and the 
former asked: " Duartane, wert thou ever before upon this hill ?" 
" Aye was I," he replied, " and in company of one that in time of 
old was famous in the chase, in hunting, and in all art of venery : 
Finn son of Trenmor son of Baeiscne son of Fiacha saidhbir son 
of Brec son of Daime Donn son of Deghad There with him 
were the heroes of the Fianna too: Ossian son of Finn, Raighne 
son of Finn, Oscar son of Ossian ; the Black-knee and the Black- 
foot of Bengulban ; Dubthuath and Art mac Moma ; GoU, Conan, 
Beith, sons of Moma. Round about this hill the chase was set 
on foot: we made hares to seek the hill-tops, sent foxes on their 
travels, roused brocks out of their brock-holes, with flushing of 
birds and with putting of fawns to their best speed Thus we 
stood and gave ear to the hunters' halloo, to the clink of dog- 
chains, to cry of hounds and to the young men as they cheered 
them ; till a hart dappled of white and red, and having in him 
other variety of colour, appeared and fled before us into the west 
At him Finn slipped his own leash-hound : Bran of the sweet 
music ; the white hound also, and the brown : énán and mac an 
tuinty which swiftly bounding westwards over Luachra sped 

away " but Shane mac an iarla at this point chancing to 

cast his eye round from south to north, the Kern was vanished 
quite; nor could mac an iarla tell into which one of all terrestrial 
airts he was gone from him. 

Now so it happened that at this season a certain gentleman of 
Leinster and doctor of poetry: Mac Eocfiaidh or * M'Keogh,' had 
for an eighteen weeks' space lain with a broken leg that ever 
discharged acrid matter of marrow and of blood, nor could by 
any means at all procure the same to be healed ; yet all this 
time had by him physicians and surgeons twelve, the best that 
were in Leinster. All at once he discerned a soldier clad in 
narrow stripes, wrapped in a sorr>- mantle and, as he drew near, 
crooning a ditty. "God save thee, M'Keogh," said the Kern 
[for he it was]. " And thee too,'* answered M'Keogh : " whence 
art thou ?" " In Shane mac an iarlds house I slept last night ; 
in O'Donnell's mansion in Ballyshannon the night before. In 
AUeach na righ or * Ellach of the kings ' I was bom. One day I 
am in Islay, another in Cantyre ; a day in Rathlin, another on 
fionncltarn naforaire or *the white look-out cairn' on Slievefuad; 


O 'Donnelfs Kern. 3 1 7 

for I am a frisky flighty strolling fellow." "What art is thine?" 
M'Keogh demanded. " I am * material of a physician ' [i.e. a 
medical student]." "What name bearest thou?" ^' Cathal O 
Céin are my name and surname," said the Kern : " and wouldst 
thou but put away from thee the churlishness, and the penury, and 
the niggard nature that are in thee I would e'en heal thee." " All 
that," M'Keogh made answer, " indubitably is in me until I have 
imbibed three drinks ; but from that moment 'tis equal to me 
what any one shall do." " But wilt thou at my instigation drop 
churlishness and penury ?" M'Keogh said: " I will so." Forth- 
with Cathal produced a salutiferous herb, the which so soon as 
he had applied to the leg he cried : " rise now, M'Keogh, till we 
see hast thou a run in thee !" and the patient standing up made 
one dart and away with him across the level land — the rest of 
them all in consternation after him — so that with sheer running 
he left the twelve physicians far behind. 

" M'Keogh," said the Kern, " I have wrought thy cure but, 
shouldst thou hereafter at any time even once more use churlish- 
ness or penury, I will come back and the same leg which by me 
now is healed I will break again ; nor that one only, but the 
other leg as well ; after which not all the physicians of the Fianna 
[supposing them risen from the dead] would mend either one of 
them." " Never will I do so," said M'Keogh : " but I have a 
buxom daughter whom, together with three hundred horses, 
three hundred cows, three hundred sheep and as many hogs, I 
will bestow on thee ; so shalt thou have prospered with thy wife- 
hunting." Cathal assented to this : " it is well ; and be she fair 
or be she foul mine she shall be." 

Then for Cathal's benefit M'Keogh had a great feast made, 
and many guests bidden ; which banquet being now ready and 
viands all ordered for the eating, Cathal pulled himself together, 
and never russet-clad hare on a March day was swifter than he 
as he fled away over the scalp of the hill facing the town. To 
M'Keogh enter presently the man of service, saying: "that 
physician that thou hadst, the one out of Ulster (Cathal by 
name) — the russet-coated beast denominated * hare ' is not 
speedier than he over yon hills crown and far away!" where- 
upon M'Keogh made this quatrain following: — 

3 1 8 ' Donne Ifs Kern. 

" The physician from Ulster is dear even as Ulster themselves are dear to 
us ; a father's son out of the northern airt he is : right happy he that has 
Cathal O Cain}* 

Without tasting of either rest or recreation Cathal now took 
his way till he reached Sligo on the instant when, in order to the 
avenging of the Connacht crone's basket upon the Munster crone» 
O'Conor-Sligo would have set forth; who being as he was in 
act to march saw towards him a kern that wore garb of narrow 
stripes, and who said: "God save thee, O'Conorl" "And thee 
too," was O'Conor's answer: "where hast thou been now?" 
*" Last night I was in the Lagan of Leinster, in M'Keogh's house ; 
the night before, twelve miles out of Limerick in Shane mac 
an iarla of Desmond's house ; the night before that again in 
O'Donnell's mansion at Ballyshannon ; and in dun monaidh, in 
the king of Scotland's house, the night before. In Ellach of the 
kings I was bom. I am in Islay one day, in Cantyre another; a 
day in Man^ a day in Rathlin, and another on Finncharn in 
Slievefuad ; for a poor rambling shambling flighty loon am I." 
" What name bearest thou ?" the Chief enquired. " My name is 
Gilla dé\ and what now may be that which takes you all from 
home ?" O'Conor answered: " for the purpose of giving Munster 
battle it is that I draw out" " Would ye but hire me, I would 
go with you," said the Kern ; but a kern of O'Conor's putting in 
his word called out: " by my faith it is not merely that we would 
not hire thee, but we would not ourselves take either bribe or 
bounty and to have thee with us at all 1" " Not with you seek I 
to go, but with O'Conor," returned Gilla del "and it might well 
happen that for having me with him O'Conor should in the end 
be none the worse." The Chief then questioned him : " how much 
will purchase thee, Gilla déV* " Never a thing I ask but that 
while I continue with thee nothing that is unfair be done to me," 
he said ; and those terms O'Conor promised him that he should 

The men of Connacht marched and, drawing over Shannon 
westwards, made a three days' incursion into Munster: harrying 
them, and sweeping together to one place their herds, their horses 
and their flocks ; driving every creature that could be made to 
travel. They got the Munster crone's two bracked cows, with 
her hornless bull; and these, as a solatium for her basket, 

O'Donneirs Kern. 319 

O'Conor made over to the Connacht crone. But not long they 
had been a-driving of the prey when they saw the stout lads of 
Munster's either province [Thomond and Desmond] that after 
their cattle followed hard ; and Gilla dé presenting himself before 
O'Conor gave him his choice : whether to have the prey driven, 
or the pursuit checked. The Chief saying that he had rather the 
pursuit were checked, Gilla dé with a bow and twenty-four arrows 
turned on the pursuers and never once let fly but he floored nine 
times nine of the Munstermen ; so that within bow-shot of him 
none might stand his ground without being hit On the other 
hand, though all the Connachtmen had [in this interval] dedi- 
cated themselves to a single score of the captured cattle, they 
had not availed to drive them the length of an arrow's flight 

O'Conor sent for Gilla dé^ and now bade him drive the prey. 
With prompt consent and with the swallow's speed the gUla 
swept around the prey to block them, and drove them all until 
by virtue of hard running they were far out of Munster's ken ; 
but these, marking Gilla dé thus turn his back on them, hurried 
up after Connacht and slaughtered them so unmercifully that of 
necessity he must again turn on the pursuit 

In this manner he was kept on the run betwixt prey and 
pursuit until from the westward they recrossed Shannon, and so 
home to Sligo and O'Conor's dwelling-place. 

The Chief entering in before all others a drink was put into his 
hand, and he drained it without a thought on Gilla dé who, 
coming on the instant into O'Conor's presence, proclaimed that 
he took his leave of him. This was unpalatable to the leader, 
and he said that in atonement of the slight put on him in respect 
of the drink the Kern should have his own award ; but the gilla 
declined the ofler, or to be any longer with him, saying that 
anent this matter he had concocted certain verses: — 

" An injustice to Gilla dé is unbecoming to him that perpetrates it : what 
I tell the Chref is that the judgment which he has ruled is bad. It was I 
surely that to fetch the kine went with them to Tralee : the one that could 
hinder the pursuit, it is not fair that he alone must not have anything. 
Though I had been with Brian's son Murrough, taking * pledges' and cows, 
with all other preys, and that we had lifted the whole world's rents, I had 
never given him but one half of the whole." 

O'Conor gave one look round, and never knew into which one 
of all terrestrial airts Gilla dé was gone from him. 


320 O'Donnelfs Kern. 

At this same juncture Teigue O'Kelly chanced to hold a 
general gathering and muster at his dwelling and good town, 
when he saw come to him a kern clad in narrow stripes : half his 
sword's length naked out behind him, his ear-tops both sticking 
out through his old mantle, and he had a pair of old brogues in 
which the puddle-water clapped. " God save you all," he said, 
and received like salutation. " Where hast thou been ?" asked 
Teigue O'Kelly. " In O'Conor-Sligo's house I slept last night, 
and before that in M'Keogh's in the Lagan of Leinster ; before 
that again in Shane mac an iarla of Desmond's house, in 
O'Donnell's mansion of Ballyshannon, and in the king of Scot- 
land's town. In EUach of the kings I was bom. I am in Islay 
one day, in Cantyre another ; a day in Rathlin, and another on 
the white cairn in Slievefuad ; for I am a poor rambling rakish 
fellow." "What art is thine?" "I am a good conjuror: one 
such as will, if thou bestow on me five marks, shew thee a trick." 
Teigue saying: "I will give them," the Kern laid on his open 
palm three rushes, professing as he did so that with a single puff 
of his breath he would abstract the middle rush, and the two 
outer would leave still where they were. He was ordered to 
execute the thing: upon the pair of rushes that were farthest 
apart he imposed two finger-tips, and the central rush he puffed 
from his palm ; then he cried : " there thou hast a trick, Teigue 
O'Kelly!" "The trick, upon my conscience, is not a bad one," 
O'Kelly said ; but a kern of his following ejaculated : " that he 
mightn't have luck that did it ; for bestow on me but the half of 
those five marks, and I will perform it ! " " After the same 
fashion do that same trick, and I will give thee the half of those 
five marks," said the narrow-striped. Upon his hand's palm the 
soldier now placed three rushes but, in seeking to copy the 
other's action, right through palm and back of his hand he 
rammed both his finger-tips. " Tut tut, man," cried the Kern : " an 
outrageous trick is that which thou hast done there, and that is 
not the way in which I did it ; but at any rate, seeing thou hast 
lost the money, I will set thee to rights again." The conjuror so 
saying applied to the hand an herb of great virtue, and presently 
it was whole again. 

" Teigue O'Kelly," resumed the conjuror, " wouldst thou bestow 
on me five other marks I would shew thee yet another feat ;" 

'Donnelts Kerit. 321 

and to O'Kelly demanding: "what feat is that then?" he 
answered: "on the one side of my head I would wag an ear, 
while the other should stand still." ** Do it," said the Chief. 
Then the man of tricks raising a hand laid hold on one ear and 
made it to wag on the side of his head. " Of a surety it is a 
good trick!" laughed O'Kelly. "Never thank thee," O'Kelly's 
Kern cried again : " for if I have any luck at all I will myself 
achieve that bit of jugglery!" and the pied Kern said: "now 
that the other trick was too much for thee, do this one." With 
that the soldier putting up his hand made an ear to wag indeed ; 
but if he did, it came clean away from the side of his head. 
" Teigue," said the conjuror, " this is a clumsy kern of thine, for 
that i* faith is not the way in which I bring off my trick ; yet 
will I in any wise heal him and, for gift of farther five marks, 
shew thee still another one." 

This time he took out of his bag a silken thread, and so projected 
it upwards that it stuck fast in a certain cloud of the air. Out of 
the same receptacle he pulled a hare, that ran away up along the 
thread ; a little beagle, which when it was slipped at the hare 
pursued it in full cry; last of all a small dogboy, whom he com- 
manded to follow both hare and hound up the thread From 
another bag that he had he extracted a winsome young woman, 
at all points well adorned, and instructed her to follow after 
hound and dogboy and to preserve the hare from injury by the 
former. With speed the lady ran away up in chase; and to 
Teigue O'Kelly it was a pleasure then to contemplate them and 
to give ear to the mellow hunting cry, until they finally going 
out of all ken entered into the cloud 

There for a long spell they were now altogether silent, and the 
trick-man said : " I fear me that up aloft there some bad work is 
forward." " Such as what ?" asked the Chief. " That the hound 
would eat the hare, and the lad make love to the lass." " 'Twould 
be kind for them, that same," quoth Teigue. Then he reeled in 
the thread ; and caught the dogboy with his arm round the 
young woman's waist, the hound a-picking of the hare's bones. 
Fury filled the man of sleight to a pitch so great that he drew 
his sword and, dealing the dogboy a stroke on the neck, knocked 
his head off his body ; but Teigue O'Kelly signifying that he was 
not too well pleased with a deed so unconscionable xlone in his 


32 2 O' Donnelt s Kern. 

very presence, the conjuror affirmed : " if it so grieve thee I can 
amend the evil, and readily." So saying he picked up the head 
and with it made a shot at the body ; by operation of which the 
young man truly stood up, but his face was turned backsideways. 
To this 0*Kelly said : " better for him he were out-and-out dead 
rather than living and in such plight." At this hearing the 
other collared the dogboy and twisted the head on him into its 
right place, so restoring him perfect as he was at first; and that 
done he pronounced this quatrain : — 

" He gives little or he gives much, and sometimes he gives twenty marks ; 
the lifeless man he brings to life — all chiefs on earth must envy Teigue." 

For one instant O'Kelly looked aside, and of all earthly airts 
he never knew into which one the conjuror was vanished from 

Now in the *king of Leinster*s' house [i.e. in Mac Murrough- 
Kavanagh's] just at this time a banquet was held, and they 
descried towards them a kern clad in narrow stripes : with puddle- 
water that aye churned in his old brogues, and his sword's point 
naked out behind him. " God save you all !" he said. "And thee 
too," returned the king of Leinster: "but whence art thou?" "From 
Teigue O'Kelly's house I am come now, and before that was in 
O'Conor-Sligo's ; I am in Islay one day, in Cantyre another ; 
one day in Man, another in Rathlin, and a third on the look-out 
cairn in Slievefuad ; for I am a foolish frisking rambling_fgUQw." 
"What name is thine?" pursued the king. "My name," he 
answered, " is the g^V/a decair'' 

In the king of Leinster's mansion were sixteen men that were 
harpers, and the gilla decair [when he had heard them] said 
to him : " my word I pledge that since the time when in the lower- 
most Hell I listened to the sledge-hammers* thunder, aught so 
vile as thy music I never have heard." "Thou greasy rogue," 
the burliest of the string-folk cried, "a *bad right' it is thou 
hast to tell us that !" and to him the gilla decair returned : " hard 
as it were in execrable strumming to outdo those fifteen others, 
thine own self positively it is that for discord and for harshness 
overtops them all," The man of strings raised his sword and, 
striking the gilla decair [as he thought] on his crown's fair apex, 
judged that he had made of him two even halves ; but what 

O 'DonnelCs Kern. 323 

befell him in reality was this: that his own proper sconce proved 
to be the spot on which his cut impinged, and by the same it was 
split in two. So also with the remaining string-folk, who (so 
many of them as could get at the gilla decair) discharged at him 
each man his handful, yet in their own persons received the 
punishment of every blow. 

Certain of his chief intimates the king now ordered to lead out 
that naughty fellow, and to hang him up. They seized him 
therefore and, as they supposed, strung him up ; but when they 
were returned into the king's presence, there they found the gilla 
decair before them. "Wast not thou he whom we left swing- 
ing on a gallows ?** they asked [in amazement]. " Tiy was it," 
the Kern replied. So they tried the gallows, and in his stead 
found suspended the best-beloved confidential that the king had. 
Thrice was this trick accomplished by the gilla decair^ so that of 
the king's very familiars (forby the major part of his musicians/ 
slain previously) were hanged three. 

Until sunrise hour on the morrow the gilla decair tarried in the 
king of Leinster's house * and no thanks to them ' [i.e. whether 
they would or not} But in the morning he came before the 
king and said: "king of Leinster, divers of thy people yesterday 
I put to death ; I will however leave them whole again." ** I am 
well pleased," said the king. Then* [after they were restored] 
the gUla decair taking a harp played music so sweet . . . [as 

* Eg, 166^ f, ij: — Out of his conjuring-bag he drew a herb that he had, 
rubbed it to the palate of each man of them, and successively they rose up 
whole as ever they had been before. Then he went forth out of their presence, 
and never stayed nor stood until he came to Shane O'Donnellan's house ; a 
mether of bonnyrowar and a dish of crab-apples were served to him, and of 
these he ' used ' his full quantum. Out of their presence too he went forth 
without either leave-taking or farewell, and subsequently with n>ain hard 
running went ahead in such wise that it was unknown to them into which of 
the whole vast world's airts he had taken his course, only this : that he was 
departed, and that there was no more account of him. And so there you 
have the Circuit of Manannan mac Lir of the tuatha dé danann^ who was 
wont thus to ramble in the character of a prestidigitator, of a professor in 
divers arts, of one that on all and sundry played off tricks of wizardry, until 
now at last he is vanished from among us without leaving us more than his 
bare report ; even as all other magicians and artists that ever have been are 
vanished, likewise the Fianna, and all classes of people that since that date 
have appeared or for all time shall appear and, in the long run, ourselves 
along with them. 

Y 2 

324 The Carle of the Coat. 

\ before], and the king after a momentary glance at his own 
musicians never knew which way he went from him. 

As for the Kern, never a stand nor stay he made till he gained 
cill scire or * S. Sdre^s church,' i.e. * Kilskeer * in Meath, and the 
house of Shane O'Donnellan. There they brought him a mether 
of bonnyclabber and a dish of crab-apples, of which so soon as 
he had his fill eaten he departed from before them : but in what 
direction, that they knew not ; neither from that day to this has 
any man ever had jot or tittle of his tidings. 


Here is the Visit of the king of Thessalys son Cael an 
iarainn to Ireland^ and how unfortunately Ais walking- 
match turned out with him; or according to some 
authorities^ the Adventure of the Carle of the Drab 

It was a day of gathering and of conference constituted by 
Finn son of Cumall son of Art son of Trenmor grandson of 
Baeiscne, with the seven battalions of the reserve and seven of 
the regular Fianna, at the Hill of Edar son of Edgaeth ; and as 
they threw an eye over the sea and great main they saw a roomy 
and a gallant ship that upon the waters bore right jdown for 
them, from the eastward and under a press of sail. She was 
fitted out as though for war and contention ; and they had not 
long to wait before they marked a tall, bellicose, impetuously 
valiant óglaech rise by means of his javelins* staves, or of his 
spears' shafts, and so attain both his soles' width of the white- 
sanded beach. A polished and most <;omely lorica he had on ; 
an armature that was solid and infrangible surrounded him ; his 
handsome red shield surmounted his shoulder, and on his head 
was a hard helmet; at his left side a sword, wide-grooved, straight 
in the blade ; in his two fists he held a pair of thick -shafted 
spears, unburnished but sharp ; a becoming mantle of scarlet 
hung on his shoulders, with a brooch of the burnt gold on his 
broad chest 

The Carle of the Coat 325 

Thus equipped then, and in this fashion, he came into the 
presence of Finn and of the Fianna ; and Finn spoke to him, 
saying: "of the whole world's bloods, noble or ignoble, who art 
thou, warrior ; or out of which airt of the four art come to us?" 
" Gael an iarainn is vay name, the king of Thessaly's son ; and in 
all that which (since I left my own land and up to this present) 
I have perambulated of the globe, I have not left either isle or 
island but I have brought under tribute of my sword and under 
my own hand. What now I desire therefore is to carry off the 
universal tribute and capital power of Ireland." Conan said : " we 
never have seen laech^ nor heard of warrior, but a man to turn 
him would be found in Ireland." " Conan," answered Cael, " in 
thine utterance find I nought else than that of a fool or gaby ; 
for were all they that during these seven years past are dead of 
the Fianna added now to those that yet live of them, I would in 
one single day treat them all to the grievousness of death and of 
life curtailed. But I will do a thing which ye will esteem a 
condition easier than that : if among the whole of you ye find 
one only laech that in running, or in single fight, or in wrestling 
shall get the better of me, no more worry nor trouble will I 
inflict on you, but will get me gone back to my own land again." 
** Why now," said Finn, " the runner that we have : Caeilte mac 
Ronan to wit, he at this moment is not at home ; and were he 
here he would have a run with thee ; but if, warrior, thou be a 
one that will tarry with the Fianna, and with them make friend* 
ship and observe the same, while I go to Tara of the Kings to 
fetch Caeilte — whom if I find not there I shall to a certainty get 
in Keshcorran of the Fianna — then do so." " So be it done," 
Cael assented. 

Then Finn started on the road, and had not gone far when he 
happened on an intricate gloomy wood, the diameter of which a 
deeply scooped out hollow way traversed throughout Into this 
forest he had not penetrated any distance before he met a dia- 
bolical-looking being of evil aspect, an irrational wild monster of 
a yellow-complexioned thick-boned giant having on him a long 
drab coat down to the calves of his two legs, either of which 
under him as they carried the great fellow's ill-assorted body 
was like the mast of some ship of largest rate ; like the side of a 
wide-wombed boat was each brogue of the two that garnished his 

^ I 

326 The Carle of the CoaL 

knobbed feet armed with curved nails; the drab coat that invested 
him had to it a pewter platter's width of a skirt-trimming con- 
sisting in a yellow stucco of mnd, and this at every step that he 
took would flap against the calf of one leg so as to knock out of 
it a report that could be heard half-a-mile of country away ; 
while every time that he lifted a foot, there used half-a-barrel of 
mire to squirt upwards to his buttocks and even over his entire 
yellow-tinted person. Finn fell to consider the great man for a 
length of time (for never before had he seen his like) and walked 
still on his way till the other spoke, saying: " what is this course 
of trudging or wandering that is befallen thee to make, Finn son 
of Cumall, all alone and solitary without a man of Ireland's 
Fianna by thee?" "Such," replied Finn, "is the measure of 
my perplexity and trouble that I cannot frame to tell thee that 
nor, though I could, would it do me any good whatsoever." 
" Unless to me thou do explain the matter, thou wilt for ever 
suffer the damage and detriment of it [Le. of thy reticence]." 
" Well then," Finn began, " if I must tell it thee, know it to be 
the king of Thessaly's son Cael an iarainn that yesterday at 
noon came in at Ben-Eldar, looking to acquire for himself the 
rent and rule of all Ireland unless only that some one Iciech I 
may find who in running, in single combat or at wrestling, shall 
overcome him." " And what would ye do ?" the big one enquired : 
" for I know him well, and there is not a single thing asserted by 
him but he is able to fulfil : upon the Fianna universally he 
would inflict slaughter of men and virile óglaechs," Finn went on : 
•* I would proceed to Tara of the Kings to fetch Caeilte, whom if 
I find not there I shall undoubtedly get in Keshcorann of the 
Fianna, in order that of yon warrior he may win a running 
match." " Verily then," said the big fellow, " thou art but * a 
kingdomless man ' if Caeilte son of Ronan be thy grand resource 
with which to scare away the other." " Then indeed I know not 
what I shall do," said Finn. " But I do," quoth the great man : 
" wouldst thou but put up with me, of that hero I would upon 
my oath win a running wager." Finn rejoined : " I esteem that 
in carrying thy coat and huge brc^;ues for a single half-mile of 
country thou hast thine utmost endeavour to perform, and not to 
embark in a running bet with that laech!^ " By all that's positive, 
unless I win it of him not a man of all Ireland will bring it off." 

The Carle of the Coat. 327 

*' So be it done," consented Finn: "but what is thy name?" and 
he made answer: " my name is bodach an chóta lachtna or 'the 
carle of the drab coat/" 

Then Finn and the Carle returned back again, nor concerning 
their travel and wayfaring is anything told us until they reached 

There Ireland's Fianna in their numbers gathered about the 
big man, for never before had they seen his like ; Gael an iarainn 
too came upon the ground, and enquired whether Finn had 
brought a man to run with him. Finn answered that he had, 
and exhibited his man ; but when Cael had seen the Carle he 
objected that to all eternity he would not run with any such 
greasy bodach. At this hearing the latter emitted a coarse burst 
of horse-laughter, saying: "in respect of me thou art deceived, 
warrior; acquaint me therefore with the length of course that 
thou wouldst run, the which if I run not with thee, and more too 
if such be thy pleasure, thine it shall be to take the stakes." " I 
care not," rejoined Cael, " to have in front of me a course of less 
than three score miles." "'Tis well as it happens," said the 
Carle: "three score miles exactly they are from Ben-Edar to 
Slieveluachra of Munster." '•"So be it done," Cael assented. 
" Well then," suggested the bodach^ " the right thing for us to do 
is to proceed westwards to Slieveluachra to begin with, and 
there to put up to-night, so that to-morrow we may be ready for 
our start and our walk." 

Those two good laechs {Cael an iarainn the king of Thessaly's 
son namely, and the Carle of the drab coat) set out accordingly, 
and of their journey there is not any record until as the sun 
went under they reached Slieveluachra of Munster. " Cael," said 
the other then, " it behoves us to knock up some kind of dwell- 
ing, whether house or hut, to have over our heads." But Cael 
retorted : " by all that's certain, I never will set about building a 
house on Slieveluachra for the sake of passing one night there, 
considering that I have no desire at all ever during the whole (^ 
course of my life to return thither." " So be it," quoth the 
bodach : " but if I can manage to put up the like, 'tis far enough 
away outside of it will be any that shall not have given his help 
to make it." 

328 The Carle of the Coat. 

The Carle entered then into the nearest darkling^ and intricate 
wood, where he never stayed nor rested till he had tied up four- 
and-twenty couples of gross timber ; and these, along with their 
complefnent of rafters from the same wood and of fresh rushes 
of the mountain, he brought in that one load and so erected a 
house long and wide, all thatched and warm. Of the forest's 
sticks both green and dry he on that lodging's floor made up a 
vast bonfire, and a second time addressed Cael : ^ if thou be a 
man to come with me and in these woods seek some game or 

other ^" " I understand nothing about it," answered Cael : 

" and if I did, 'tis not to second the like of thee I would go * 

Again the bodach sought the nearest wood's recesses, into 
which he was not penetrated far when he roused a drove of wild 
swine ; the stoutest boar that he saw he cut off from the rest and, 
along every track, through every covert, followed until by 
strenuousness of running and of painful effort he vanquished 
and struck him to the earth ; neatly and expeditiously he made 
him ready and before that same great fire put him down to roast, 
with a turning contrivance to the spits that should keep them 
going of themselves. Then the Carle started, nor ever halted 
before he attained to the baron of Inchiquin's house (that was a 
score and ten miles from Slieveluachra) and brought away two 
barrels of wine, two pewter dishes, all as much bread as there 
was ready in the house, a table and a chair, the whole of which 
he carried in the one load and so regained Slieveluachra. Here 
he found his meat roasted before him ; half of the boar, a moiety 
of the bread and a barrel of wine he set aside to provide for the 
morning ; the other half of each he served to himself upon the 
table, and comfortably, luxuriously, sat down. He ate his full 
quantum of meat, after which he ingurgitated into his person a 
barrel of wine ; upon the floor of that caravanserai he shook out 
a copious layer of rushes, and was wrapped in sleep and lasting 
slumber until on the morrow's day both the all-brilliant sun 
rose, and Cael an iarainn (who during the night had been on the 
mountain's side without meat or drink) came and roused him 
from his snooze, saying : " rise, bodach ! it is now time for us to 
set about our journey and our wayfaring." With that the Carle 
woke up, rubbed his eyes with his palms, and said : " there is an 

The Carle of the Coat. 329 

hour's time of my sleep that I have not worked out yet ; but since 
thou art in a hurry, I yield thee my consent that thou be off, 
and undoubtedly I will be after thee." 

Accordingly Cael went ahead upon the way, not without great 
misgiving by reason of the small account which he saw the 
bodach make of him. When now the latter had slept his stint he 
rose to a sitting posture, washed his face and hands, served him- 
self up meat on the table ; then at his perfect ease sat down 
to it, ate up the remaining half of boar and bread, and finally 
swigged off the second barrel of wine. 

At this point the Carle got up, in his drab coat's skirt he care^ 
fully stowed away the pig's bones, and away with him at the speed 
of a swallow or of a roe, or as it had been a blast of the searing 
March wind careering over the summit of some hill or rugged- 
headed rock, until he overhauled Cael an iarainn and across the 
way in front of him pitched out the porker's bones, saying: "try, 
Cael, whether upon those bones thou mayest find any little pick 
at all ; for sure it is that after passing last night in fasting con- 
dition on Slieveluachra thou art full of hunger." " Thou shouldst 
be hanged, Carle," he answered, " ere I would go look for meat 
upon the bones which with thy glutton-tusks thou hast gnawed ! * 
** Well then," said the bodach^ " it were none too much for thee 
to put on a gait of going better than thou hast done as yet" 

Here he pushed on as though he were turned to be a madman, 
and in that one heat went thirty miles ; then he fell to eating of 
blackberries from the brambles that were on either side of the 
road or way, till such time as Cael came up to him and said : 
" bodach^ thirty miles back from here is the spot in which I saw 
one skirt of thy drab coat twisted round the neck of a bush, and 
the second tangled in another bush ten miles behind that again." 
" Is it the skirts of my coat ?" asked the Carle, looking himself 
all down. " 'Tis they just," Cael said " In that case," argued 
the bodachy " that which it were the right thing for thee to do 
would be to delay here eating of blackberries, in order for me to 
return and bring back the skirts of my coat" " It is very certain 
that I will do no such thing," answered Cael, and : " so be it," said 
the bodach. 

Cael went his foad, while the Carle returned till he found the 
skirts of his coat as the other had said ; he sat down, pulled out 

330 The Carle of the Coat. 

his needle and thread, and so stitched them on in their own place 
again. This done he retraced his steps, and Gael was not gone 
far when the Carle caught him up and said to him : " Cael, thou 
must put on a gait of going better than thou hast done yet, if as 
thou hast already expressed thou wouldst carry off all Ireland's 
tribute ; for I will do no more turning back now." 

Then with the speed of swallow [etc, as before] the bodach set 
oif as though converted into a madman ; and such the impe- 
tuous rush of pedestrianism which carried him along, that soon he 
surmounted the crown of a certain hill within five miles of Ben- 
Edar, where he devoted himself to eating of blackberries from 
the brambles until he had made of himself a juice-filled sack. 
He then put off his drab coat, again produced his needle and 
thread, and sewed up the garment so as to make out of it a long 
and wide bag, very deep. This he stuffed to the muzzle with 
blackberries, and on his skin rubbed a quantity of the same so 
that he was as black as any smith's coal ; said load he hoisted 
upon his shoulder and, stoutly, nimble-footedly set out, making 
for Ben-Edar, 

The position of Finn and of the general Fianna was that they 
were filled with great apprehension of Cael an iarainris being in 
front, for without knowing in the world who he was they had 
pitched all their hope in the Carle. Now abroad on a tuUtcKs 
top Finn had a certain emissary to spy whether of the two that 
raced held the lead ; and he, so soon as he caught sight of the 
Carle, went in and told Finn that Cael came along in the way 
and the bodach dead upon his shoulder. '' A suit of arms and of 
armour," cried Finn, " to him that shall bring us tidings better 
than these!" and a second messenger when he was gone out 
recognised it to be the bodach that was there. Around him 
the Fianna of all Ireland flocked together joyously, and sought 
news. " I have good news for you," he said : " but for the mag- 
nitude of my hunger it is not possible for me to publish it before 
I eat my sufficiency of parched-corn meal and blackberries mixed : 
my share of these I have brought with me, and let you now pro- 
vide me my fill of such meal." On Ben-Edar now a great cloth 
was opened out on which to serve the Carle, with a heap of 
meal in its very centre ; in among the meal he shot his sack 
of blackberries, and with a will turned to at eating them. 

The Carle of the Coat. 331 

But soon they saw Cael along the road, with his hand at his 
sword's hilt, his two eyes blazing red in his head, and he ready 
to charge in among the Fianna to hew them and to bone-split. 
When then the bedash saw him in this array, he picked up his 
great paw's fill of the meal and blackberries, and upon Cael dis- 
charged the mess to such purpose that he banished his head to 
the distance of a fair scope of ground from his body ; then where 
the head was thither he ran, and with it a second time let fly at 
the trunk in a way that he fastened it on as solid as ever it had 
been. The manner of him now however was with his face to his 
back, his poll upon his chest ; so the bodach ran at him, dashed 
his whole carcase violently to earth, lashed him up hard and fast 
and inextricably, and said : '' Cael, was it not a mistaken thing 
for thee to say that on this occasion the chief rent and sovereign 
power of Ireland, though there were none but thyself alone to 
strive for it, would be suffered to go with thee? nevertheless 
none shall ever have it to say to Ireland's Fianna that to a 
solitary warrior, he having none but himself to take his part, 
they would administer grievousness of death and of short life. If 
therefore thou be one to swear by sun and moon in guarantee of 
thy transmitting the rent of Thessaly yearly during thy life long 
to Finn and to the Fianna, thou shalt have thy life in the guise 
which now thou wearest" By sun and moon Cael swore yearly 
to fulfil that all his life. 

Then the bodack takes him by the tips of his fingers, leads him 
to his ship and puts him in sitting posture into her ; to the 
vessel's afterpart he gave a kick, and with that same sent her 
seven leagues out to sea. There you have the fashion in which 
the expedition of the king of Thessaly's son Cael an iarainn 
turned out with him : to be dismissed home under the conditions 
of a fool or simpleton, without power ever again so long as he 
should live to strike a blow in battle or in tough single encounter. 
The bodack came back to Finn and the Fianna, and told them 
that he was the fairy chief of rdth Chruachan or * Rathcroghan,' 
that came to loose them out of the fetters in which they had 
been [Le. to succour them in their straits]. For the fairy chief 
Finn then made a feast and banquet of a year and a day. 

So far then the adventures of Cael an iarainn^ the king of 
Thessaly's son, and of the Carle of the Drab Coat 


33? Ctans Leg. 

Haw the Leg of Cian son of Maelmuaidh son of Bran 

was healed. 

Upon a day that Brian of the Tribute's stewards went to lift 
his rent and cess in West Munster, they came to the house of 
O'Cronagan of Coirell\ but O'Cronagan himself (who was a 
dependant of Cian son of MaelmuaidK) not being at home, his 
wife enquired who they might be ; and they answered : " we are 
the king of Ireland's stewards." "And who is king over Ire- 
land ?" the woman asked again, "Brian son of Kennedy; to 
lift whose tribute we are here." " Never have we paid rent to 
man, neither to him will pay any." So the stewards went away, 
and back to Kincora, where Brian was with the gentles of the 
Dalcassians; at which time also he held high festival for the 
men of Ireland. The stewards told the dishonour which O'Cron- 
agan's wife had done them, and Brian said: "well I wot how 
that will be settled ; for before the men of Ireland break up from 
me I will set out, and upon O'Cronagan will avenge this my dis- 
honour." " That is the proper thing to do," the gentlemen of the 
Dalcassians said, and away they all went to Coirell of O'Cron- 
agan ; there they burned up the triucha céd immediately adjoin- 
ing him, but again he was not at home. 

. His wife therefore followed them [as they retired], and found 
Brian and the chieftains of the Dalcassians in the rear of the 
prey; she saluted them, and Brian answered her. Then she 
began: " unjustly thou hast made these preys on us, inasmuch as 
rent we never yet have paid to man; he that is lord over us 
never having exacted any such." "And who is he?" "Cian, 
son of Maelmuaidh that is a dependant of thine own ; and, Brian, 
grant me now a boon!" "So I will," said the king. "Well 
then, restore me my little greyhound and my sheep." " That, 
on my conscience, is a lady's request, and thou shalt have it. 
Thou therefore go, Cian son of Mahon, and so much of the preys 
as thou mayest avail to overtake, give to her in guerdon of her 
prudent discourse ; a^ for O'Crons^an, let him come after me to 

Cians Leg, 333 

Kincora; where the rest of his preys he shall have again, or else 
their eric.'* 

O'Cronagan came home, and made him ready to follow Brian : 
a company of twelve men, having about them all garments of 
grey, unfulled ; so they reached Slieveluachra. But here O'Cron- 
agan saw towards him a greyhound : one half white, the other 
green ; incontinently he clapped a chain on him, then made the 
best of his way to Kincora, where Brian bade him be welcome. 
O'Cronagan craved a favour, and the king answered : *' it shall be 
had" The other stood up now and said: "give me then the 
leash of little beagles which thou hadst in a gift from the king of 
France." "Thou shalt have them." On the morrow's morn 
O'Cronagan rose early; but even as he departed Brian's son 
Murrough met him, and enjoined him that until he had his preys 
he should not go away. O'Cronagan said however that with 
that which already he had gotten he was pleased better than he 
could be with all Ireland's wealth. 

Thus he took his way back to Slieveluachra, and one of the 
beagles started a hare; O'Cronagan slipped the greyhound at 
her, and he coursed her ; he himself sat down to look on, but his 
people said that they for their part would pursue their journey 
and not wait on him. It was but a short space that he had been 
there when he marked the hare return towards him with the 
beagle and the greyhound both well up to her, a very little 
distance dividing her from them. With a cry of: "sanctuary, 
O'Cronagan !" the hare ran and crouched in his bosom, where 
incontinently she was turned into a beautiful young woman. 
" Thou shalt have it," he answered ; and the maiden promised 
that the dearest boon which he might proffer she would con- 
cede to him. " Do but come home with me this night," she 
said, and entered into a sidh ; in the same was a fair dwelling, 
and there they found an aged couple. They used meat and 
drink ; a couch and high bed was made ready for O'Cronagan, 
he bade the girl precede him into it, and said that such was all 
the petition he would crave of her. She indeed made answer 
that, loath as she was, yet would she execute the thing ; but the 
ancient pair said that for themselves the business misliked them, 
they not knowing but that to some end all this was contrived by 

334 Ciafts Leg. 

On the morrow O'Cronagan and the young woman rose and 
travelled to Coirell-O'Cronagan ; and as they drew near to the 
«town there met them a young man, who told them that O'Cron- 
agan's wife was a-missing. In his town then he saw great houses 
and halls, and this was to him a source of wonder. To three 
years' end that woman dwelt with him, and again [i.e. after 
Brian's distraint on him] O'Cronagan prospered, so that he had a 
great troop of horsemen and many people ; which caused him to 
say that, saving one only fault, in himself was no defect at all. 
To his wife enquiring of him what that one might be, he said 
that it was the not having as yet made a feast for the king of 
Ireland, She affirmed that, Brian having already heard the 
fame of his wealth and general thriving, he needed not to do 
any such thing; but he held out that without giving Brian a 
banquet he would not be content. Such banquet therefore was 
prepared for Brian ; and O'Cronagan himself repaired to Kin- 
cora, whence he conducted Brian and the chiefest of all Ireland 
back to Coirell-O'Cronagan. For three whole days they were in 
the town enjoying the best of service and of ministration ; but to 
her, to O'Cronagan's new wife namely, Brian and Murrough his 
son yielded up their very soul's love ; which yet was but nought 
as compared with the love for her felt by Cian son of Maelmu- 
aidh. After four days spent thus, Brian rose and was for going ; 
but O'Cronagan said it irked him that the king should go away 
that night The wife on the other hand insisted that it were 
just as well to suffer their departure ; that not in Ireland at large 
could they have had a feast more proper than one of three days 
and three nights. Nevertheless O'Cronagan maintained that 
dismiss Brian that night he would not ; they tarry on in the 
house therefore, and Cian said that for the nonce he would do 
the service. In this way O'Cronagan sat at the board, but Cian 
and the wife were together [waiting on the company] ; and he 
told her that he felt huge love towards her and longed for her 
companionship. She however declaring to him that never would 
she be his, Cian proceeded to knock her down ; whereupon 
straightway she was changed into a great brood mare, and 
rushed for the door. Cian indeed caught her by the one hind 
leg; but she raising the other struck him in the shank and 
broke it, which done she made good her escape. 

Ciafts Leg. 335 

On the morrow the concourse all repaired to their several 
homes, and Cian to inis Chéin or * Clan's island/ where for a year 
he lay sick of his leg ; the physicians availing not to make it 
knit, nor to draw out any virulent matter that perchance were in 
it But upon the very day twelvemonth (Cian's people being 
now gone to Mass and he therefore alone) to him enter a young 
man, of whom as he took a seat beside him Cian enquired where 
he had been at Mass. " In Rémas na rigk or * Rheims of the 
Kings' in France," he answered. Cian said: "a most great 
marvel is that which thou dost express." " I have seen a greater," 
returned the other. " And what might that same be ?" "I am, 
O Cian, brother's son to thee ; and in Knockgraffan once had a 
fairy sweetheart, whom (in order that I might love the king of 
the Daisys daughter) I slighted. She consequently laid me 
under oonds [purporting penalties to take effect] unless I forsook ^ 
Ireland, [and further condemning me to this : that] so soon as I 
grew /to love any, even then I must abandon them. I went to 

France therefore, and there all their nobles loved me ^" " But 

for thine honour's sake, young man, what was the wonder of 
which but now thou spakest ? [for in all this is nought so very 
strange]." "That I will set forth to thee," said the narrator: — 

" I [leaving France as my bonds required] sought the king of 
DreoUanris mansion, but after a while returned again to France ; 
there just then the king lacked a wife, and he sought to learn of 
me whether I had in my eye any woman befitting a king of 
France. I shewed him that the king of DreoUann's daughter 
was single, and a worthy wife for him ; but that to demand her 
would avail him nothing until first [in order to inspire a proper 
respect] he should have made some forays and incursions. 
Accordingly the king of France set himself in motion and, when 
he was come into the land of DreoUann, forthwith burned the- 
country. I betook me to the king's strong place, and he ques- 
tioned me whose were those great forces ; to which I made 
answer that yonder was the king of France, to make suit for his 
daughter. The king of Dreollann said : * I had bestowed her on 
him without his coming thus in person to require her.' This 
answer I retailed to the king of France ; and at the same time 
prescribed to him that of the other potentate he should accept 
nor jewels nor other valuables whatsoever, but only the twenty- 

336 Cians Leg. 

four serfs that he had, and the four-and-twenty knights that 
guarded him. This request the king obtained, and home to 
France carried off the woman, the serfs, and the knights. Some 
little time afterwards I, when I was gone out upon the fort's 
green, saw towards me twelve monks and nine serfs : each one 
of these latter having a carpenter's axe, and the senior of them a 
bundle of somewhat rolled in his bosom. The eldest of the 
monks said: '^a good place this in which to build a monastery ;" 
the other opened out his bosom and planted acorns [of which he 
had a parcel there], which sprouted forthwith and grew into full- 
sized oaks. Of these the carpenters made boards ; the monks 
for their part prepared lime, and in short built a great monastery 
in which they performed their offices. I joined them ; they rang 
bells, and bade me go fetch the king of France. I went and 
brought him with his wife ; we entered the monastery, and there 
the monks meeting us bent the knee to king and wife. Then 
they enquired of him whether he thought it any harm to have 
the monastery built so. The king replied that he was well 
pleased to have it built, and would afford him help [to maintain 
it]: which help was an entire triucka céd^ his wife also bestow- 
ing another. " Well then," pursued the senior monk, " be with 
me this night at my monastery's inauguration feast" The king 
came therefore, and his nobles, and had fair service and good 
ministration ; he and his spouse, together with the count of the 
council and his, being put into the one chamber: now these 
two were right fond of their wives. But on the morrow the king 
when he rose found not his wife by his side, and so questioned 
r the count whether his were by him. That nobleman made 
answer that she was not ; and [when they looked about them] 
where they found themselves to be was in their own several 
chambers at home. From the king's fort we set out now in 
quest of the monastery again, but never lighted on the place in 
which it had been ; neither found we plank or stone, but only the 
bare green : the wives of those two were taken from them indeed. 
And all this, O Cian son of Maelmuaid," the Vagrant [for such 
was the speaker's name] ended, " is in the way of wonder more 
considerable than that in Rheims of the Kings a while ago I 
should have been at Mass with the king of France, and now be 
here." "Greater an hundredfold indeed," said Cian. "Well 

Cians Leg. 337 

then, to heal thee am I come,'' the Vagrant said, and on the fire 
put down a certain brew. 

In the interval Cian enquired : " but what became of those two 
ladies?" " I will tell thee: I followed the king's wife (as for the 
count, he died for grief at the loss of his) and in the end reached 
Greece, where there met me one of whom I sought intelligence 
He shewed me that a full year ago he had seen four-and-twenty 
monks that rode on horses ; but whither between that time and 
this they might be gone, he knew not. For a year I tramped 
on, and until I happened on a strong place ; there I went to work 
with questions, and they told me that just a year before they 
had seen twenty-four monks on horses. On I went, and for 
another twelvemonth was up and down in Greece ; at which 
year's end a regal mansion of great size was before me, and the 
dwellers therein apprised me that they had seen twenty-four 
young men that had with them a couple of women. They told 
me too that it was the king of Sorcha's son was there ; and by 
thy hand, O Cian, I never stayed till I attained to such the king 
of Sorcha's hold and entered into a bower, in which those ladies 
were. The king's son coming bade me be welcome ; but I required 
the king of France's wife, and eke the count's. He promised 
that I should have them ; affirming that in the mean time none / 
had wronged them, and that the reason for which he had taken 
them was this : the inordinate love that their own husbands had 
borne them. I craved a convoy, and he sent with me his brother: 
him called * of the Yellow Mantle,* and the best arm in the world. 
With him and the women I came away ; and when by-and-by 
night overtook us, I declared to comfort the count's widow in 
her solitude. The Yellow-mantled swore that for the king of 
France's wife (if I acted so) he on his side would e'en do as much ; 
I abstained from the count's widow therefore. 

"On the next day we progressed as far as the German 
emperor's strong place; which emperor had a daughter, and 
in the whole world was not a woman that to me could be dearer 
than was she [at first sight]. Furthermore: so too was she 
affected towards myself. At morn we rose and moved off from 
the town, but soon he of the mantle said that in the same he had 
forgotten something. Thither he returned therefore and, in 
despite of the Almaynes (whom copiously he slew), brought 


33* Cians Leg. 

away the emperor s daughter. Speedily he caught us up, and 
that same night we entered into France ; here I made my own 
of the count's widow, and he usurped the emperor's daughter : a 
move which, by thy hand, O Cian, irked me extremely. How- 
beit I, as I said, made shift with the count's widow ; but he of 
the Mantle averred that, since he had conve)red us into France, 
he would now depart taking with him his new wife. Upon this 
issue we fought, and I deprived him of his head ; to the king of 
France I then restored his wife, and the count's widow escorted 
to her home ; after which I carried off the emperor's daughter 
and betook me to the king of Orkney's isles, where for three 
years I abode. In that space of time she bore me three sons, 
whom three earls of Lochlainn took home with them to rear. 

^ In the meanwhile it had been noised abroad that he, the 

Yellow-mantled, was fallen by me ; in quest of me the king of 

Sorcha's sons came into France and, when they found me not 

there, fired and preyed and ravaged the French lands, killing the 

king. The late count of council's three sons too came to the 

island in which I was and, all because upon their mother I had 

begotten youngsters, verily sought to slay me. But by thy hand, 

Cian, all three of them together with their men I killed ; which 

done I, as being fain to leave the island, made me ready. In 

the harbour however I found a great fleet, and saw towards me 

a currach out of which there loomed up a martial and a stalwart 

stripling, one that had a black knee. Right to the spot where 

with my wife I stood he came and, forthwith recognising the 

emperor's daughter, gave her a kiss : at the same time he 

enquired of me in what degree she was akin to me. When I 

answered that she was my wife, he of the black knee (who, 

saving only that blemish, was the comeliest young man that ever 

I had seen) maintained that she was none such. On the head of 

it then he and I fought and, when our weapons shivered, grappled : 

cither to other with painful effort giving twists violent and 

sudden. The upshot was that Black-knee bound me fast, and 

took from me my wife. In that island for a whole year I lay in 

bonds ; then came to me the three Danish earls that to their 

isle had borne away my sons, and they it was that loosed me. 

I left the island then and roamed to some strange land, in which 

for twelve months I was utterly astray ; but at such year's end 

Cians Leg. 339 

the point at which I found myself was the same where [at my 
first landing] my galley was abandoned. I got into her, and 
after a time fell in with an island in which by way of inhabitants 
were none save one beautiful young woman : a spinster. Here 
I put in a year, at which term the young woman had borne me 
a son. Her too I left here, and long wandered, until at the close 
of a day there was I in a kingly and vast fortress. I grounded 
my spear, and where should it land but on my very foot, piercing 
it through to the floor, so that in this fort for a year I lay sick 
of my foot Leeches indeed and physicians were brought to me ; 
yet for all they did to me my torment was but the greater. The 
year run out, there came to me a young damsel bringing her lap 
full of certain herbs ; a poultice of these she laid upon my foot, 
and on the instant I was whole. The king of Orkney's hold this 
was ; and she, his daughter. Such now, O Cian, is the actual 
cataplasm which here I bring thee too." It was applied to Cian's 
leg, and he was sound. " Now will I depart," said the Vagrant ; 
but Cian entreated him : " for thine honour's love so do not, but 
of thy rambles tell me somewhat more: the Mass-folk will not 
join us yet awhile." " I will say on then : — 

" One day I started, and in due course attained to the coasts of 
Lochlainn ; there three well-fashioned and appointed youths met 
me, with fast horses under them. To these seeking to know who 
I might be I answered that I was 'the Vagrant'; whereupon the 
young men shewed me that they were sons of mine, being indeed 
the three that the emperor's daughter had brought me ; and all 
agreed to take part with me in search of him that had the black 
knee. I prescribed to them therefore that they should travel 
each one of them a part of the world, I another, and we trysted 
in the world's eastern portion ; any such one of us in whose way 
Black-knee should fall, to slay him. 

" I held my way through Greece and to the lands of Sorcha, 
where (as I passed by the king's fortalice) I came on a young 
man and bade him tell the king of Sorcha's son that I indeed 
never had played the monk, nor for fear of any man had ever 
built a sham monastery. Which message the young man de- 
livered not that night, but on the morrow. The prince knew 
that I was he of whom the other spoke, and in pursuit of me 
despatched nine serfs commissioned to ransack the whole world. 

z 2 

340 Cians Leg. 

" I vaguely errant pursued my path, and thus encountered a 
warrior that rode a destrier of speed. He told me that I strayed 
exceedingly, but that he would point me out the way. In his 
hand then he took mine, and for that day had me in tow of his 
charger ; at last he bestowed me in a keep, where I passed a 
year from kalend to kalend ; during which spell I was not able 
to quit the building, no human being save myself being within 
it, but meat and drink in plenty. The year expired, the young 
man returned to me ; to the spot in which formerly he had found 
me he led me back again and, with an intimation that this was 
all that he would do in the way of giving me a course, left me. 
I, O Cian, [as my use was] went forward, but in gloom and 
dejection, lachrymose, and in the way before me eventually dis- 
cerned four knights on horses, each man of them having a bosom- 
load of gold. I questioning them who they were, they revealed 
that they were Black-knee's stewards ; and by thy hand, O Cian, 
those four I killed, and then moved on again. In my route 
I found a great river and, on the bank, a huge giant who, I 
evading him and making for the sea, cried out that were all men 
in the universe to travel their several roads as now I travelled 
mine, it were but few of the world's journeys that ever people 
would manage to perform at all. I bade him void my path, but 
he refused ; we encountered therefore, he fell by me, and for a 
full twelvemonth I essayed to cross that inlet of the sea [the 
aforesaid river's estuary]. At that period I won over it is true, 
but hardly; for it all but killed me. 

"Again as I journeyed I saw in front of me a keep and 
seigniorial mansion, which I knew for Black-knee's. Upon the 
dwelling's green I knocked up as it had been a hunting bothie ; 
then the town's denizens and head men descrying me, a puissant 
right valorous warrior was dismissed to require an account of me. 
Said warrior, by thy hand, O Cian, fell by me. By the same 
hand, O Cian, ere evening fell three hundred further champions 
of them perished by me. Next I saw draw near a young man : 
harnessed in truth, but invested also with poet's garb and other 
gear, who enquired what name I owned. I disclosed that I was 
* the Vagrant,' and at once he shewed me that he was a son of 
mine. The thing being strange in my eyes, I examined him 
where the other two were ; but those he told me were destroyed. 

Ciatts Leg. 341 

yet was it neither in battle nor in single fight that they were 
fallen. He went on to say that certainly he had not buried 
them ; as for himself, he now was a stipendiary of Black-knee's. 
I still questioning him whether he had laid eyes on his mother, 
the emperor's daughter, he replied that seen her he had ; she 
however had not known him. I sought whether, since he had 
been with Black-knee, anything in the nature of single combat 
were fallen to his lot ; and he showed that on tnuir an scdil he 
had slain two that were brethren to Black-knee, and that same 
by BlacV-knee's own licence ; moreover that he had had mastery 
of the Wizard of the Glen. Here, by thy hand, O Cian, I 
enjoined on him to enter in, and to the emperor's daughter to 
signify that it was I that was there. Accordingly he set forth to 
her how he himself was the third son that once she had to the 
Vagrant, who even now was abroad upon the green. Hereat 
great joy took the emperor's daughter : she sent me out a pro- 
vision of meat and drink sufficient for a hundred, and that night 
I and my son passed together. In the morning we rose betimes ; 
and I directed him to go again into the fort, and this time to 
proclaim to Black-knee that I was the man upon the green, to 
whom also he [the messenger] was son. He did so and, by thy 
hand, O Cian, there we were for a year — my son and I — killing 
daily two, and some days four, of the forces of the gaethlach [i.e. 
of the Maeotic Marsh]. At the year's end I saw two striplings 
approach ; they delivered their own tale and desired ours, where- 
upon I instructed them that I was the Vagrant, and the youth 
by me there a son of mine. " Why then," they replied, " we also 
are sons of thine." I would have learnt the manner of their 
demise, but they said : " how we were slain, or how brought back 
to life, we know not ; but resuscitated we surely are." So soon 
as I had rehearsed them my own exploits and the young man 
their brother's, they promised that for a year they would relieve 
us of all battle-toil. This they did ; and at the second year's 
expiration we, finding ourselves now all four united, beheld a 
numerous host land in the bay, and what should be there but 
the nine serfs that the king of Sorcha's son had sent to seek me 
out. On our other hand we marked a young man that in mould 
and form and garb was comeliest of all such as down to that very 
day we ever had beheld. Where we were, thither he came ; and 

342 Cians Leg, 

asked who we might be. I certified him that I was * the Vagrant, 
and those three beside me there three sons of mine. He told me 
that he likewise was son to me ; to which I rejoined that, were 
he indeed such, then should I know him by the tokens which he 
might impart to me. * Certain it is,' thus he went on, • that I am 
son to thee and to the king of Orkney's daughter ; my name too 
is ' the Solitaire,' and I derive it from the island in which I was 
bom: yclept *the Isle of Solitude.' Much wandering truly I 
have done in research of thee ; and one day as I ranged the 
lands of Sorcha and passed hard by the king's dwelling, they 
interrogated me who I was. I displayed to them that I was 
* the Solitaire,* son to * the Vagrant ' ; and with that the king of 
Sorcha's son coming out fought with me.' 

" Then, O Cian, my own and the youths' two years* exploits I 
recounted to him, and the Solitaire engaged that for a year to 
come he would bear us free of all fight. Incontinently then he 
fell upon the force of new-comers and slew the nine serfs ; then 
for the stipulated year he fought with and persistently killed all 
armed bodies that opposed him, until in the end the whole of 
them, by thy hand, O Cian, were fallen. By thy hand again, O 
Cian, the Solitaire and Black-knee did contend together ; nor, 
by thy hand still, O Cian, was finer set-to ever fought out: 
Black-knee in the end falling by the Solitaire. At this crisis 
we, by thy hand, O Cian, leaped into the fort and brought away 
the emperor's daughter: the wife that from that day to this I 

" And now, Cian, I will just be gone ; for those my sons, after 
their travail throughout the world, are all at loggerheads: the 
three, by reason of their own mother's super-excellence and 
because they are the seniors, being but ill-pleased that the 
Solitaire must be lord ; his skill in arms on the other hand is 
the greater, and he fiercer than the others. Hence it is, Cian, 
that I will depart and bring matters to a settlement betwixt 
them all. Thou therefore have good luck ; thy leg (as it would 
seem to me) is now in good repair: to heal the which I came." 
Such then, and so far, is the Healing of Cian's Leg ; and I 

myself am mac xcc. 


The Cave of Keshcorran. 343 

Here follows the Enchanted Cave of Keshcorran. 

It was a great and general hunting match that by Finn son of 
Cumall son of Art son of Trenmor grandson of Baeiscne, with 
the brave and comely Fianna of the Gael, was convened through- 
out the Corran's fair borders ; among the beautiful tuatha of 
Leyny ; within the confines of Brefny ; in the trackless fast- 
nesses of Glendallan ; in the nut- and mast-abundant regions of 
Carbury; in the strong coverts of Kyleconor's woods, and over 
the wide plane expanse of Moyconall. 

Then Finn sat upon his hunting mound on the top of high 
Keshcorran ; at which instant there tarried by him none but his 
two wolf-dogs: Bran and Sceolaing^ and Conan Mael mac 
Morna. Now was it sweet to Finn to look on ; to listen to the 
hounds' music, to the young men's clear joyous cheering, to 
utterance of athletic warriors and deep voices of mighty men, to 
various whistling of the Fianna, in all the wild and desert forests 
of the land ; for even in the bordering countries those hunting 
cries which they emitted were freely heard : these being such 
that deer were roused out of their wilds, brocks banished from 
their brock-holes, birds driven to take wing ; and at this point 
each wrathful and eagerly fierce wolf-dog was slipped from his 
leash to course the tulach. 

Howbeit the ruler that at such time had sway in Keshcorran 
was Conaran son of Imidel, a chief of the tuatha dé danann ; and 
so soon as he perceived that the hounds' cry now sounded 
deviously, he bade his three daughters (that were full of sorcery) 
to go and take vengeance of Finn for his hunting. The women 
sought the entrance of the cave that was in the tulach^ and there 
sat beside each other. Upon three crooked and wry sticks of 
holly they hung as many heathenish bewitched hasps of yarn, 
which they began to reel off left-handwise in front of the cave. 
They had not been long so when Finn and Conan reached the 
cavern's edge, and so perceived the three hideous hags thus 
busied sit at its entrance: their three coarse heads of hair all 


344 ^^^ Cave of Keshcorran. 

dishevelled ; their eyes rheumy and redly bleared ; their three 
mouths black and deformed, and in the gums of each evil woman 
of them a set of sharpest venomous and curved fangs ; their 
three bony-jointed [i.e. scraggy] necks maintaining their heads 
upon those formidable beldames ; their six arms extraordinarily 
long, while the hideous and brutish nail that garnished every 
finger of them resembled the thick-butted sharp-tipped ox-horn ; 
six bandy legs thickly covered with hair and fluff supported 
them, and in their hands they had three hard and pointed 

In order to view the harridans Finn and Conan passed through 
the hasps ; whereupon a deathly tremor occupied them and pre- 
sently they lost their strength, so that by those valiant hags they 
were fast bound indissolubly. Another pair of the Fianna came, 
and with them the sons of Nemhnann: through the yarn they 
passed to where Finn and Conan were ; they too lost their power, 
and by the same hags were lashed down in rigid bonds. These 
warriors then they carried away into the cave. 

But a little time they had been thus when Oscar and mac 
Lugach came upon the ground, having along with them the 
gentles and chief nobles of clan-Baeiscne ; clan-Moma as well 
was on the spot and, when they had looked upon the hanks, 
there was not in any one man of them all so much as a newly 
delivered woman's strength. The children of Corcran appeared 
and, when they saw the yams, their pith and valour likewise was 
abolished. In short, the children of Smól and the Fianna all, both 
gentle and simple, were bound ; so that as helplessly pinioned 
and tightly tethered culprit prisoners the hags transported them 
into black mysterious holes, into dark perplexing labyrinths. 

Howbeit at the cave's mouth was great baying of wolfdogs 
that, after their lords' and their owners' departure and excursion 
away from them, demanded them there. Many a deer full of 
hurts, bone-cleft, many a wild pig killed outright, and mortally 
mangled brocks, with hares that had suffered much, lay on the 
hill-side after the binding of them that hitherto and thus far had 
carried them. 

Now came those huge daring warrior-women, and they hold- 
ing in their hands three wide-channelled hard-tempered swords, 
to the spot in which the Fianna lay tied. Round about them 

The Cave of Keshcorran. 345 

on every side they looked abroad if perchance they might spy 
any individual or straggler of the Fianna to whom they might 
administer death and everlasting destruction ; and when they 
failed of this, would have entered into the fort with intent to 
have unsparingly dismembered and hewn the Fianna all in 

But anon they did see a single tall warrior, martial and valiant 
of aspect, white-toothed, that bore him as one skilled in arms ; 
none other indeed than the raging lion, the * rabies of battle,' the 
torch that flamed in the day of onset : the great-souled Goll son 
of Moma son of Cormac son of Mahon son of Garadh Black- 
knee son of Aedh of the Poems son of Aedh of cenn claire son of 
Conall son of . . . son of Cet son of Magach son of Cairbre 
king of Connacht. Whom when the three sable uncanny mis- 
begotten witches perceived, incontinently they went to meet him 
and the two sides [he and they] fought a fight of extremity, keen 
and cruel. At all events the hero's wrath kindled exceedingly, 
and upon those rude, raging, utterly hideous dames he rained 
mortal blows and ungentle strokes, until at last he raised the 
straight sword and to the brace of monstrosities that happened 
to be right in front of him : Caemhóg to wit, and Cuillenn Red- 
head, dealt one mighty cut whereby of either one he made two 
accurately even and equal-sized portions. Which cut was one of 
the three greatest that ever was delivered in Ireland, as: the 
stroke stricken by Fergus son of Ros Rua in the final battle of 
the great raid for the kine of Cuailgne^ with which at a sweep he 
shore off ' the three Maels of Meath ' ; that which by Conall 
Cemach was given to Cet mac Magach ; and this stroke of Goll 
mac Morna's, with which he slew Caemog and Cuillenn Red- 
head, two daughters of Conaran mac Imidel. 

Then from behind him the senior one of Conaran's children : 
laran ni Chonaráin^ clasped her arms round Goll as he be- 
headed the other twain ; but in her despite Goll forced himself 
round to face her, and in his turn locked his long arms about 
her. Thus they wrestled: bravely, with strength of grip and 
with savage effort, until Goll gave the hag one mighty twist and 
so hurled her to earth. With the straps of a shield he bound her 
fast, and he bared his sword to cut her in pieces, but she spoke : 
" warrior that never wast worsted, man of might that whether in 


346 The Cave of Keshcorran. 

battle or in single fight never hast blenched, my body and life I 
commit to the safeguard of thy generosity and valour ! surely it 
were better for thee to have the Fianna whole, without blood 
drawn on any one of them ; and by the gods that I adore I swear 
that all that which I hold forth I will fulfil to thee." 

Then the kingly hero loosed her bonds ; and they both went on, 
to the hill in which the Fianna (Finn with them) lay tied hard 
and fast Here GoU said: ''be their fastenings cast off from 
Fergus Truelips and from the Fianna's men of science first of 
all ; afler which, be the same done in order for Finn, for Ossian, 
for the nJne-and- twenty sons of Moma, and for the Fianna gene- 
rally." In this wise then the witch freed them ; the Fianna 
promptly rising emerged from the cave and sat down beside the 
ttdach \ then Fergus Truelips, poet of the Fianna, looked upon 
GoU and fell to laud him for the deed which he had done. 

Soon they saw towards them yet another weird evil-fashioned 
creature and irrational -looking deformity, in the shape of a 
gnarled hag full of knotted veins and sinews, upon every hair's 
point of whose shaggy grey eye-brows and -lashes that garnished 
her either a small apple or a large sloe would have stuck fast. 
A pair of serous eyes nevertheless blazed in her head ; a huge 
blueish flattened nose surmounted the precinct of her black and 
distorted wrinkled mouth, while in that gaping orifice a hideous 
ragged set of masticators stood; arms she had thin, but tough of 
muscle, nails long and formidable as a wolfdog's ; a strong and 
infrangible armature clothed her; at her thigh was a wide- 
channelled straight-bladed sword, and a great shield of the 
warrior's pattern hung on her back's upper part [i.e. on her 

In this semblance she came into Finn's presence, and she laid 
him under bonds to provide her from among his men with her 
fill of single combat Said Finn to Ossian; "go, my son, and 
rid us of yon prodigious hag." But Ossian answered : " after all 
that from the others I have had of ill-treatment and of con- 
tumely, I am not able ; and this is Conaran's daughter laman, 
coming to avenge her sisters." Thus then Ossian, and Oscar, 
and Conan, mac Lugach and Dermot, Caeilte mac Ronan and 
Cairell, with the remaining chief men of the Fianna, declined to 
encounter with the witch ; so that Finn said he would himself 

Battle of Magh mucratnha. 347 

tackle her. Here however Goll mac Moma said : " Finn, combat 
with a crone beseems thee not ; I therefore will fight with her, 
for: ' when the need is greatest, 'tis then the friend is proven.'" 

Promptly now Goll went to meet her ; and between them was 
fought a brave bout, a desperate fight, during which neither dis- 
cerned in the other any note of weakness or of fainting. At all 
events Goll passed his right hand to the strap of his shield and 
thence drew his deadly blade, with which he made a cast free of 
all swerve or deviation, and drove it through the boss of the 
hag's shield and so through her heart, that it shewed out on her 
far side. In this wise then she perished presently. 

Next, after the slaughter of Conaran mac Imidel's three 
daughters Goll proceeded to Keshcorran, and of the bruiden or 
'fort' made a red glowing pile of flame; while all the wealth that 
he found within it he turned over to the Fianna. Which done, 
Finn bestowed on Goll his own daughter: Caemh or * the slender,* 
called cneisgtiel or ' the white-skinned.' She it was that bore 
him a famous son : Fed son of Goll mac Moma, who at his seven- 
teen years completed was by the Fianna killed upon that same 

So far then the Enchanted Cave of Keshcorran. 


Here follow the origin of the Battle of Magh mucramha^ 
and the occasion of Lughaid nuu con*s death. 

OlioU Olom son of Moghnuadat^ of the seed of Heber son of 
Milesius of Spain : which Olioll was king of Munster ; and with 
him was Sabia, daughter of Conn of the Hundred Battles. 

Three sons of hers Eoghan and Cian^ and Cormac caSy sons of 
OiloU, were: from whom are the Eoghanachty the Cianacht^ and 
dáilgCais^ Le. • the Dalcassian race' or * the Tribes of Thomond.' 
A foster-son to Olioll and Sabia was Lughaid^ sumamed mac con 
or * wolfdog's son,' that was of the corca Luighe, and nursed on 
the one knee and at the one breast with OlioU's son Eoghan. 

Now upon a samAain-cve Olioll went to tend his horses upon 

348 Battle of Magh mucramha. 

Aim cliachy now cnoc Aim or 'Knockany/ and his couch was 
strewed on the hill for him. That night the hill was stripped 
bare, and they knew not who had so stripped it Three times it 
befell him thus, and he deemed it a strange thing; then he 
despatched messengers to Perches mac Contain^ that dwelt in the 
land called Mairg in Leinster: a seer too, and a man of fight to 
boot He came to confer with OlioU, and on samhain-Gv^ again 
they went upon the tulach ; there OlioU continued as before, but 
Perches was without its precinct To the sound of the four- 
footed as they grazed, sleep fell on Olioll now ; forth from the 
sldh issued its denizens ; and Durgabal's son Eogabal, king of 
the sidh^ followed in their wake with his daughter Aine, who had 
in her hand a timpan of copper and she playing it in front, of 
him. Perches rose at him and on the instant aimed a blow at 
him. With intent to enter again into the sidh Eogabal fled 
before him ; but with a great javelin Perches, whenever he 
reached the spot where Olioll was, smote him, and piercing him 
through broke his back. As for the girl, Olioll caught and 
kissed her ; but as they struggled she nipped an ear clean off, so 
that she left on him neither flesh nor skin of the same ; from 
which time never any such grew on him again, and thenceforth 
Olioll ólom or * docked-of-an-ear ' is his appellation. "Ill have 
ye been to me," said Aine : " to have done me violence and to 
have killed my father ; to requite the which I too will do thee 
violence and, by the time we two shall have done with one 
another, will leave thee wanting all means of reprisal !" That 
young woman's name it is that appertains to the hill: Aine 
cliach. OlioU's mansion was brugh righ or 'king's burgh,' i.e. 
'Bruree,' on the Maigue: a great water, and anent which the 
poet sang: — 

So long as it shall be a stream, Maigue's water shall without clarification 
be drinkable ; because it flows past the side of Mellan's son Aedan the poet's 

But Art son of Conn, mother's brother to Eoghan, making the 
visitation of Connacht once, OlioU's said son Eoghan and Lugh- 
aid mac con his fosterson set out to join him, all with the view of 
bringing back from him both horses and bridles; and as they 
came along the flat land by the river, in a clump of yew that 
overhung a certain rapid water they heard music. Back to Olioll 

Battle of Magh mucramha. 349 

then they convey a man whom they had plucked out of the clump, 
in order that the king (because they strove for their find) should 
arbitrate between them : a man it was with three strings to his 
timpan. "What. is thy name?" they had asked, and: ** Fer ft 
son of Eogabal" he had answered. "What has turned you 
back ?" said Olioll. " Quarrelling we are about this man." "And 
what manner of man is this ?" "A good timpanist" " Let play 
his music for us," Olioll said ; and quoth he: "it shall be done." 
Then he played them the goltraighe or * weeping-strain,* reducing 
them thereby to weep, to wail, and bitterly to lament, till it was 
besought of him that he would desist. Next he played the 
gentraighe or * laughter-strain,* so forcing them all to a cachin- 
nation such, that it was barely but their very lungs became 
visible. Now he performed the suantraighe or * sleep-strain,* and 
threw them into a slumber lasting from one tráth to another. 
All which being done, into the same quarter whence at first he 
came he departed again ; and so left them that which should 
breed much mischief between them : this being indeed the very 
thing that he aspired to effect. 

Then they stand up, and say: "give us judgment, Olioll.** 
" Small profit in that now,** the king answered : " but, if ye 
must have it, what said ye when the man was found ?" Lugh- 
aid said: "'mine his music!' were my words"; and Eoghan: 
"'the musician's mine!* I cried." "Just so," said Olioll: "the 
man is Eoghan*s." Lughaid demurred : " it is a false judgment.*' 
" It is true for me," said Olioll. " Not so," retorted Lughaid : 
" truth is not a habit on thy lips." But Eoghan said : " thou — 
a common loon like thee — art not one whom it is right to have 
a-censuring of him." " Even such a loon as I am, then, it is that 
shall shear that head from off thee and trample on thy cheek.** 
" How will it be done?" " On the battle-field," was the answer: 
" on this day month come thou that we meet on cenn Febhrat'* 
And the thing was verified : on that day month they met, either 
one with his host, and the two armed lines stood face to face. 

Along with the wolfdog's son, Lughaid lágha his guardian, son 
of Moghnuadat, [brother to Olioll Olom,] came to the battle; 
and there it was that Maccon proceeded to confer with his jester: 
Dodera by name, whose precise origin was of the corca Luighe. 
Now in form and feature the jester was Maccon's very counter- 

350 BiUtle of Magk mucramha. 

part, and: ''good now,* tbe latter said to him, "Eoghan will 
challenge me to a fight of two^ and the fiery courage of him — a 
king's son — stuff of a king — grandson of yet another — ^will cut 
me short." ''Never let it pass thy lips» or thou art sheerly 
doomed!" the jester cried, and went on: "I, with thy diadem 
upon my head and thine armature about me, will go in lieu of 
thee so that all shall say it is thou that comest there. Then, if a fact 
it must be that I fall, get thee away incontinently: for the whole 
host will say that thou art fallen, and on the instant the battle 
will 'burst' Up and down the battle Eoghan moreover will seek 
thee and, should he but catch a glimpse of those calves of thine, 
thou wilt be smitten." The jester is duly slain ; but Ec^han, 
who knew well that it was not Maccon he had killed, bent him 
to hunt out the latter. " The battle is bursten," all cried : " Mac- 
con is fallen !"and so indeed it was: his was the defeat Athwart 
the rout now Ex^han discerned Maccon's calves: as it were a 
single night's snow for whiteness ; after him he ran, and made a 
cast so that as the other fled the spear entered him in a fashion 
which gave rise to the saying: bran gairr farndortai. "Is the 
shot gone home ?" Eoghan called to him, and the overthrow was 
complete. Hence it was that one uttered : — 

" The battle of cenn FebhrcU it was that at the cost of many a lamentation 
was won against maccon ; seven years are allotted now for Mucramks battle 
to come off on a morning.'* 

And the same came true. 

After all which, by reason of Eoghan it was no longer feasible 
for Maccon to continue in Ireland ; as a fugitive therefore he 
made his way to Scotland, it being unknown at home with what 
number of a company he was gone. With him went Lughaid 
Idgha (so called from a great spear that constantly was in his 
hand), they being in all but thrice nine. They repaired to the 
king of Scotland, and Lughaid instructed his people instantly 
that they must not act rashly : with intent namely that they 
should not be recognised, lest that in order to gratify Art mac 
Conn, king of Ireland, they might be slain by the king of 
Scotland. He enjoined them also that, as though to his every 
fellow each individual of them were a king, each one should 
execute any other's pleasure [i.e. obey his orders]; further: that 
none should address him, Maccon, by his name. Cheerily the 


Battle of Magh mucramha. 3 5 1 

king of Scotland received them ; but who they were they pro- 
claimed not, neither was it known whence they came, only this : 
that they were of the Gael. Every morning to a year's end a 
hog and an ox were given them, all in a house apart ; and the 
king grew to admire at the excellence of their persons, of their 
grand bearing, and of their skill in arms to win whether battle, 
skirmish, or single combat ; at their proficiency in the conven- 
tion, in the game, on the racecourse, at draughts and chess, in 
soldierly service generally. 

One day then that Maccon played chess against the king, they 
saw enter to them a man of unwonted garb, and the king enquired : 
"whence this fellow?'* "I am of the Gael," he answered for 
himself. "What art pliest thou?'* the king asked again. "The 
poet's." "Tidings of the men of Ireland thou hast then: the 
reign of Conaire's son Art, goes it well ?" " Aye well," the other 
answered: "never in Ireland has been such a reign." "Who is 
king of Munster?" "OlioU's son Eoghan, for his father is an 
aged man." " And Lughaid mac con ?" " Since his banishment 
by Eoghan son of Olioll, his goings on are not known." " A sad 
thing that," the king rejoined, " and alas for Ireland that wants 
him ! Maccon's race too, in what plight are they ?" " With 
them nothing goes well ; but they are in serfdom, in discomfort, 
and in woman-bondage." When Maccon heard that, there being 
in his hand at the moment chessmen of silver and of gold, to twice 
three of them he * set his finger ' [i.e. hurled them] and struck the 
chamber's panel in front of him. The king marking him said : 
" a fit of affection it is that comes over him ; his tale is told 
manifestly." Here Maccon went out, and the king said again : 
" good now, young men, Lughaid mac con it is that goes out ; I 
see it in the motion that but now he made." On the morrow 
another man is summoned for him, and the same news recited ; 
he executed the same gesture. "Just so," quoth the king: " this 
is Maccon, and for fear of me it is that they name him not But 
in order that we may know for certain, a trap shall be contrived 
for them : be there given them a hog and an ox on the foot, with 
intimation that their own people must prepare them for them ; 
then they will refer the matter to the hazard of the lot, but 
Maccon will be left out of it" He commissions the major-domo 
to have it done ; Maccon however did join in drawing lots for 

352 Battle of Magh mucramha. 

the cooking.